The new Guyana Market Corporation (GMC) will continue to create an enabling environment for the promotion, development, utilisation and exportation of non- traditional agricultural commodities.
This is according to Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder at the Ministry’s year -end press conference on Thursday, at the Ministry’s Boardroom, Regent Road and Shiv Chanderpaul Drive, Georgetown.
Minister Holder said that in 2017, the establishment and opertionalisation of a chips and flour processing facility at Parika, Region Three will come to fruition.
The rarity of cassava processing and the limited value – added products that are produced on a commercial scale speak of the high percentage of this staple crop that is consumed with very little transformation, the Minister said.
Cassava is cultivated in most of the regions, especially in the hinterland. However, it is currently not exported. Minister Holder said that this often results in gluts on the domestic market, leading to depressed prices.
The Agriculture Minister explained that the opportunity arises due to Guyana’s current high import bill for wheat, which is currently at US $21M. THe Ministry will undertake to establish and operationalise at least one processing facility to produce high quality cassava flour.
“We will work in tandem with the bakeries to have the cassava flour incorporated with wheat flour. This initiative is expected to reduce post- harvest losses, create market opportunities for fresh produce and create gainful employment,” Minister Holder said.
In promoting agriculture business development through increased value- added production, for the year 2016, the GMC, through extensive collaboration with agro- processors, introduced approximately 40 new products in the Guyana Shop. In the area of fashion, beauty and enhancement, there is currently a wide array of soaps including ginger and aloe, lemon grass, coffee, turmeric and honey fragrances.
This facilitation in the area of value- added product development will continue in 2017.
With regards to the promotion of agro- processed commodities locally, in 2016 emphasis was placed on making value added products available and accessible to all regions. In this regard, 2016 saw four Guyana Shop corners being established in Regions Four, Six and Ten, bringing the total number of Guyana Shop corners open to eight, to date.
Minister Holder said that this initiative will be accelerated in 2017 through collaboration with private proprietors of retails shops, petrol station shops and hotels in all the Administrative Regions. The corporation will also aggressively negotiate with officials at the ports of exits to have agro- processed products available.
Additionally, in 2017 the thrust to have a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables in well packaged convenient sizes readily available for use by consumers will be undertaken through collaboration with private proprietors. The corporation will facilitate this service through the availability of the packaging facility, linkages with buyers, and the use of its refrigerated trucks.
Minister Holder said that non- traditional agricultural commodities are exported in both the fresh and processed forms via air and sea. Guyana’s major regional export destination include Trinidad, Suriname, Antigua, and Barbados, while the main extra- regional destinations include the United States, Canada and the Dominican Republic.
The main exported commodities are: coconut, coconut water, pineapple, mangoes, eddoes, watermelon, pumpkin, papaw, heart of palm and sauces.
In 2017, emerging markets will be pursued with the view of further expansion. In addition, the exporting markets that saw a decline will be assessed with the aim of retrieving them. Further, new markets will be sought for both fresh and agro- processed products.
New models will be explored by the GMC to enhance export and the corporation will also undertake a more proactive role in actual exportation.