Jim Willis, the USRPA’s president for international programs, told the visitors, “We are very pleased to have leveraged our promotional funds with those of ARROZGUA (the Guatemalan rice industry organization). Guatemala and their Central American neighbors purchased about 500,000 tons of rice last year and have the potential of being our largest single export market.”

USRPA and Guatemalan industry leaders discussed the successes of the recent advertising campaign using rice promotional funds and the need to secure funding for future years, he said.

ARROZGUA President Alvaro Padilla responded, saying, “This program works! We are getting great dividends for the resources we have expended.”

“Working with our partners in Guatemala is most gratifying,” said USRPA President and CEO Dwight Roberts. “Analysis of the 2002/03 campaign puts rice consumption 12 percent higher than it was in 2001. It shows the combined efforts of both organizations do pay off. We plan to do everything possible to keep the Guatemala market growing.”

While the group is in Texas, they will visit several mills and rice drying facilities and attend the Rice Field Days in Alvin, Danbury and Beaumont.

The two groups also discussed the status of the Central America Free Trade Agreement negotiations from the Guatemalan perspective.

e-mail: rsmith@primediabusiness.com