─ as Central Packaging Facility celebrates 21 years in operation
The New Guyana Marketing Corporation’s (GMC) extension department has now been enhanced with the procurement of 13 new motorcycles.
The dirt bikes will allow field workers to reach farmers in Regions Three, Four, Five and Six, specifically those operating in backlands and far off areas.
Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, MP, handed over the motorcycles to the corporation, during the 21st anniversary celebration of the Central Packaging Facility, at the Sophia Exhibition Complex, on Wednesday.
“We have recognised the importance of giving the tools to our workers, to our staff so that they could deliver. And the GMC has a very important role to play. We are seeing that the agro-processing sector in our country is moving apace like the other agencies,” Minister Mustapha said.
He said $79 million dollars will be expended to develop the packaging facility, as major investments are already being made to establish a number of agro-processing facilities countrywide.
“This will be the nerve center of agro-processing in our country. So, you could see the effort and investment that we are making in agro-processing.
This shows the government’s commitment to improving the sector, and this brings me to the point that we have to ensure we equip our officers and our staff with the right equipment so that they can deliver,” the minister noted.
Minister Mustapha reminded that Guyana has been leading the discussion on agriculture in Caricom since the PPP/C Administration took office. This means that critical works and major investments were accomplished.
For the achievement to further advance, the minister pointed to the important roles the New GMC has to play.
“We cannot go into the Caribbean with primary produce. We have to add value to ours and here is where the GMC, the Central Packaging Facility come in. They will have to ensure that they lead that exercise so that we can bring the exporters and producers and add value to their produce,” Minister Mustapha iterated.
He urged the extension officers to use the motorcycles for the intended purpose.
Meanwhile, Minister Mustapha said he has instructed staff to craft a curriculum at the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA) where all extension staff from the different agencies could undergo certificate training.
GMC’s General Manager, Ms. Teshawna Lall said this achievement will enlarge the agency’s data base and increase the efficiency of data collection.
She noted too that more market linkages will be created for farmers, exporters and other stakeholders, boosting their economic capacity.
“These motorcycles will serve Wakenaam Island, West Bank Demerara, East Bank Essequibo, Laluni Highway, East Bank Demerara, Branch Road Blairmont, East Bank Berbice, Crabwood Creek and Black Bush Polder,” Ms. Lall underscored.
For this year, GMC’s major exports are coconuts and honey. Additionally, some 1,060,000 kilograms of produce was exported despite the Covid-19 Pandemic.
“They were 57 shipments via sea and two via air. Exports were made to Trinidad, Antigua, Dominican Republic, US Virgin Islands, Canada, Barbados and St. Kitts,” the General Manager revealed.
The Central Packaging Facility aims to secure more regional and international markets.
Works are also being advanced for the factory to become International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) certified for international recognition.