Banks in Surinam and Guyana have been asked to operate a rice production improvement fund worth €10m (US$12m), aimed at helping these South American countries prosper in world food markets.

The Caribbean Forum of the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) States, or CARIFORUM, is spending €6.5m in Guyana and €3.5m in Surinam, to invest in rice processors, millers and growers, increasing the sector's "efficiency and competitiveness".

Selected local banks (or banking consortia) will defray the funds in 2006 as loans from April, reinvesting principals when repaid. The money was originally sourced from the European Union.