Agriculture Minister Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha on Friday commissioned a GY $28.3 million agro-processing facility at Charity on the Essequibo Coast in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) providing much-needed agro-processing services in and around the region.
With a production capacity of 24,000 liters of cassareep and 3,600 liters of sauces and seasonings per month, this facility will benefit approximately 300 persons farmers, women, youth, and other stakeholders.
While delivering the feature address at the commissioning, Minister Mustapha told those in attendance that the Ministry of Agriculture continues to operationalize several agro-processing facilities across the country, realizing the untapped potential of this industry. He said that the government has invested large sums of money to provide agro-processors with access to facilities needed to drive the industry.
“The government has invested over G$570 million to provide our agro-processors with access to these certified and suitably equipped facilities. This facility here in Charity like the other facilities that have been commissioned will contribute to benefitting more than 2,600 farmers, new and existing agro-processors, wholesalers, retailers, and consumers countrywide. This facility is now equipped with processing lines for products such as cassava cassareep, sauces, and seasoning. Farmers from other villages are expected to make full use of this facility. For example, there is bitter cassava being produced in Wakapau which can be brought to this facility to be processed,” he noted.
The facility was retrofitted to offer 24-hour service with the installation of mixers, blenders, stoves, stainless steel containers, chillers, and mechanization of the production. It is also equipped with a solar dryer which will aid in the dehydration of carambola fruits and other commodities, thereby helping to extend their shelf life and contribute to food security.
The Minister said that by the end of 2023, some 13 agro-processing facilities will be operational across Guyana.
“We are in the process of establishing 13 agro-processing and packaging facilities in several areas across the country. Very soon you will see the commissioning of facilities in areas like Crabwood Creek, Kumaka, White Water, and Orealla. As our country makes steady and assured progress towards developing the agro-processing industry and strives to maintain self-sufficiency in food production, it is the government’s hope and expectation that our farmers, agro-processors, youth, and women take full advantage of this facility and other agriculture initiatives,” he noted.
General Manager of the New Guyana Marketing Corporation (New GMC) Teshawna Lall said that the corporation has been working with agro-processors to ensure their products are on par with the standards required not only locally but regionally and internationally.
“With the commissioning of this facility, women, youth and agro-processors as a whole will be able to produce more efficiently and competitively, aided by state-of-the-art equipment. Enhancing product value is a key focus at the Guyana Marketing Corporation. We are aggressively pursuing this path with agro-processors nationwide, ensuring that our locally manufactured products are prepared for local, regional, and international markets,” she said.
As part of the ministry’s developmental agenda for the agro-processing industry over 200 farmers/agro-processors from various communities such as Capoey, Lake Mainstay, Wakapau, Charity, Bethany, Supenaam have benefitted from training and sensitization in the last three years. Several stakeholders were trained in packaging and labeling as well as in food and drug requirements and certification for agro-processing.