Govt’s agro-processing push lauded by local manufacturers

As government continues to inject millions of dollars into the advancement of the agro-processing industry, several local manufacturers have praised the fulfilment of these promises, as well as the plans to further expand the sector.

Sandra Craig

Sandra Craig, who is the proprietor of well-known business SS Natural Flavours Inc., lauded the investments by government, noting that agro-processors will now have the opportunity to efficiently serve the market with their products.

Sharing her thoughts about the recently constructed agro-processing facility in Region Two, Craig explained that facilities like these will allow producers to provide the market with a higher quantity of their products, as well as instill confidence in consumers concerning the quality.

“It’s very important for us to have these kinds of facilities that we can access so that we can do standardised products, so when it gets out [customers] know that it comes from a standard facility,” she highlighted.

Craig also highlighted that the budgeted allocations and the detailed plans to enhance the sector will be of great benefit to not just her business, but to other businesses.

“I think they have a very good plan, and it will help a lot of small entrepreneurs to get access to all the things that they have there to offer. So, I think that they’re [making] a good move, so we can be able to go forward and do production at a larger scale…and get everything going for us,” she noted.

Chris Persaud

Meanwhile, Managing Director of internationally recognised UMAMI Inc., Chris Persaud, in his interview with this publication, noted that the government’s support of the industry has been substantial in assisting businesses in the sector to improve themselves.

“Government has been very, very supportive in their initiatives and creating the environment…one example is the other day there was a high-level delegation from Barbados, and there were quite a few opportunities both in terms of imports and exports whereby [we] stand to benefit…initiatives such are those are welcomed on our part and I think they’re doing a wonderful job in allowing us the environment to flourish,” Persaud detailed.

The owner of the locally made company that can now be found on the multinational e-commerce platform, Amazon, said the government’s direct investment into agro-processing facilities should be welcomed by persons already in the industry, as well as those desirous of entering since it eliminates a major challenge usually faced by manufacturers.

“Sitting in the hot seat as an agro processor, I know some of the key concerns towards establishing a business like this…so government taking this initiative and injecting taxpayers’ dollar into a facility basically is removing one element of the issue. So, I think it is a fantastic opportunity for agro-processors, those who don’t have the facilities to embrace the project,” the agro-processor urged.

Vikas Gobin

Another business that is becoming a staple in the agro-processing sector, is Gobin’s Farm and Kitchen.

This company produces dried and healthy fruit snacks to the market, a product that has gone untapped in Guyana for quite some time.

Vikas Gobin, a doctor by profession, said it is laudable that the government has kickstarted the investments in this sector so that private corporations can see the feasibility in the industry and follow suit.

“Government needs to continue. I mean, these are good initiatives to invest in agro-processing and they need to be the ones to foster investment in the agro-processing sector because these are ways to empower farmers beyond just selling things in the market, to be able to process and value add to their goods to reach an even wider market,” Gobin opined.

Just last year, the government expended approximately $60 million towards the construction of a state-of-the-art agro-processing and packaging facility in Cotton Field on the Essequibo Coast.

In August 2021, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed for the realisation of a US$50 million agro-processing facility to be built in Enmore, East Coast Demerara.

The Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA), also hosted a massive Duty Free Benab and Expo for local manufacturers. This event was held almost simultaneously with the International Energy Conference and Expo in February.

The event saw agro-processors and other local producers receiving massive exposure for their products as well as positively networking and positioning themselves for future investments.

In Budget 2022, some $261 million was allocated towards the accelerated development of the agro-processing sector.