“Adaptability to agro-processing is important to the longevity of the country’s agricultural economy,” so says Assistant Manager of the Guyana School of Agriculture’s (GSA’s) Agro-Processing Facility, Stacia McDonald.
As Guyana embarks on agricultural transformation, special emphasis has been placed on the promotion of local goods. Over the years, GSA has successfully produced local products and spearheaded training which has led to the development of the local economy.
McDonald, highlighting the importance of the agro-processing industry in a recent interview with the Department of Public Information (DPI) noted, “the industry is critical to the development of Guyana’s economy because it creates a link between the industries and the agricultural economy, and with the change in habits and lifestyles of Guyanese and people around the world it is critical for us to develop products to make life a bit easier”.
The Assistant Manager explained that the original plan was to use the GSA’s Agro-Processing Facility for teaching purposes; however, with its expansion, the local market has been supplied with many of the institute’s products and students have also been given the opportunity to create their own foodstuff.
“This is an added business for us, we produce our products under the brand GSA Foods.”
Presently, GSA’s products can be found at a few supermarkets in Georgetown and in New Amsterdam. “We teach food safety and quality along with product development and students are taught to do the basic things leading to their own branding and labelling.”
According to McDonald, the facility prepares the students to become young entrepreneurs. “The agro-processing programme is a one-year course. The students would have the food handler’s certificate and they would assist us in some of the operations, which in turn help them with ideas for their independent operations. And since many times students leave here and cannot find a job it’s the best thing for them to develop their own products so that they can be their own bosses.”
GSA is Guyana’s premier institution in agricultural education. The school was established on September 9, 1963, with the objective of satisfying a need for a national agricultural training institute. Students of the school, have for several years, been involved in research and agro-processing and have produced a line of ‘GSA’ branded products whose proceeds from the sales are utilized to manage the school.