The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) through Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC); in collaboration with the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry held an Agro-processing Seminar on Tuesday, January 31, 2017 at the Egbert Benjamin Exhibition & Conference Centre. More than ninety persons including potential and current Agro-processors attended the seminar.
In attendance for the formal opening was the Regional Chairman of region 10; Mr. Renis Morian, the Mayor of Linden; Mr. Carwyn Holland, representatives from agencies/organizations along the Agro-processing value chain and other agencies within the Ministry of Agriculture.
The seminar was aimed at fostering the development of the Agro-processing sector in Linden. Participants were given the opportunity to interact with various agencies along the value chain.
Ms. Coretta Hutson; President of Linden Youth Leaders, in her opening remarks spoke of the importance of Agro-processing and the implications it will have on the economic development in Linden. She noted that Agro-processing is a valuable means of income generation and it provides a great opportunity given the saturated job market in Region 10. She encouraged the participants to make full use of the opportunity that was provided at the seminar.
Brief Remarks was given by Ms. Ida Sealey-Adams; General Manager of the Guyana Marketing Corporation. In her brief remarks, the General Manager of emphasized the many opportunities that exist within the Agro-processing sector. Mention was made of the ABLE Hands Group and Mr. Keith Sandiford from Region 10 who benefitted from training and consultations from GMC. She reiterated the importance of having persons establish their own agri-businesses.
Ms. Sealey-Adams also noted that to date only two business enterprises from Region 10 out of more than seventy have their products shelved at the Guyana Shop. These Agro-processing businesses are Chanzar’s Enterprise and Pleasurable Flavours. She expressed her disappointment and indicated that she would like to see more products from the region in the Guyana Shop. She further encouraged the participants who are Agro-processors, to use the opportunity to invest and expand their businesses. The attendees were told to ensure that they utilize the information provided by the various agencies/organizations present at the seminar to transform their business ideas into realization and expand their current operations.
Ms. Deslyn Griffith; Project Coordinator of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry in her brief remarks stated that proper management and commitment is required to operate a business. Ms. Griffith reiterated the need for businesses to see their operations as money making venture. Throughout her presentation she stressed the need for business owners to take the development of their business seriously and to use the tools and organizations present at the seminar to their benefit. Reference was also made to the need to develop a love and passion for Agro-processing. Further, participants were encouraged to be consistent; if they wanted to see their products develop and strike always to continuously develop their products.
Regional Chairman Mr. Renis Morian also thanked the Guyana Marketing Corporation and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industries for the hosting of the seminar which sought to again provide the enabling environment for residents of region 10. Regional Chairman Mr. Morian also encouraged the participants to capitalize on the information that will be disseminated and the services that are offered by the Guyana Marketing Corporation and the many stakeholders who were present at the Agro-processing Seminar. He further charged the participants to reduce the rhetoric; the plenty talking and get into action and be more proactive.
His Worship, the Mayor of Linden, Mr. Carwyn Holland, did the feature address. In his address, he commended, GMC and the Georgetown Chambers of Commerce and Industry for their initiative. The Mayor used the opportunity to make recognition of Mr. Caesar from Chanzar’s Enterprise. He commended Mr. Caesar for his quality line of products which includes spices, porridge mix among others. The Mayor emphasized that there were many opportunities available for the people of Linden to tap into. To this end, the mayor made mention of a supermarket in the United States that only sells Caribbean products. Mayor Holland also indicated that personnel from the supermarket expressed interest in sourcing any quantity of products that are produced in Linden. Mayor Holland in his feature address encouraged the residents of the region to ‘grow big in order to go big.’
The mayor also encouraged the people of Linden to utilize the resources that they have in order to promote development. The need for the participants to develop innovative ideas and products was also touted. He expressed his desire for Agro-processing to expand into the rural communities so that all persons would be able to benefit.
During the information sessions, presentation on the importance of registering one’s business and brand was done by representatives from the Commercial Registry. Director of the Government Analyst Food and Drug Department (GAFDD); Mr. Marlon Cole explained the mandate of the critical regulatory body. Mention was also made of the services that are offered in relation to Agro-processing business by the Government Analyst Food and Drug Department. Mr. Cole also encouraged the participants to establish a common brand for their product.
The importance of Good manufacturing practices was emphasized by the representative of the Guyana National Bureau of Standards.
Loans that are available, the criteria for accessing such loans and funding opportunities that are available to start-up businesses and established businesses like Agro-processing ventures were detailed by Ms. Gillian Edwards manager of Small Business Bureau, Ms. Tonia Griffith of the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry, Ms. Susan Hamilton of the Linden Enterprising Network and Ms. Rhonda Nelson of the Ministry of Social Protection. In closing president of the Linden Chamber of Commerce; Mr. Kevin De Younge issued the call for the participants to go to the Service Providers and be more pro-active. The need for persons to work together and share ideas was also underscored by the president of the Chamber.
The Way Forward
Ms. Johan David; Agriculture business Development Officer of the Guyana Marketing Corporation closed the session by challenging the community to have at the very least, four businesses present at this seminar improve their product and marketing strategy. This she added must be done in such a way that they can comfortably court the major supermarkets for space on their shelves.
Notably, the seminar constituted the first of a multi-phased approach to the development of the Agro- processing sector in region 10. During the follow-up sessions, training in specific areas of Agro-processing and business proposal development will be constitute some of the initiative that will be undertaken. The Guyana Marketing Corporation is responsible for promoting the development and exportation of both fresh and Agro-processed commodities in the non-traditional sector.
Subsequent to the Seminar, six businesses have heeded the call and are currently working with the New GMC on product development and branding.