Despite a giant leap in recent years to push manufacturing and sale of local products, Agriculture Minister Noel Holder Friday said the country still imports US$53 million or G$10.9 billion in snacks.
Speaking at the seventh anniversary celebrations of the Guyana Shop, which sells locally manufactured goods, Holder also stated that the country imports G$40 million in jams and jelly, while there was a $227 million bill on the importation of peanut butter. Imported juices, Holder stated, amounts to G$1 billion.
“This indicates that there are many lucrative market opportunities still to be optimized, while we have made significant progress in expanding the range of products in the agro food sector there is still much to be done and we intend to do it quickly,” Holder stated.
The huge import bill continues to climb despite the efforts of the Guyana Shop, the largest sales agent of local agro-processed products.
Holder referred to new and innovative value-added products developed over the years, many of which are on the shelves in the Guyana Shop today.
These products include wines such as passion fruit wine, peanut and bark wine and boulanger. The flours include those made from breadfruit and banana flours. There have also been soaps produced from coconut oil, moringa (sijan), and lemon.
He said that from 2013 to now, t 344 new products were put on the shelves of gthe Guyana shop.
The Guyana Shop sells products coming from all regions of Guyana, excepting Regions Seven and Eight.
General Manager of the Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC) Ida Sealey-Adams commended local agro-processors for working along with the agency.
“Today I’m happy to say that if I’m to compare then to now I think you would have leaped a thousand-fold.
“Sometimes it was frustrating you know that, but we’ve walked you through and today we have products that are comparable with any international product in terms of presentation” said Sealey.
Rodiekah De’Freitas, a successful agro-processor who benefited greatly from the assistance of the GMC spoke about her business.
“GMC is not only a business platform for me but it’s like I’ve been added to an additional family line.
“They are very open to helping us, they are easy to go to you can ask a thousand questions and get through.
“I’ve been able to develop my products and enhance them in the packaging the labeling and even the way I manufacture them.
“And with doing so, my product has been standing out on the shelves” Rodiekah declared.
The Guyana Shop has also been providing opportunities for producers to promote themselves internationally and regionally.
GMC, through the Guyana Shop, has hosted several events to market local products. Some of these events were a Farine Fiesta (a collaboration with Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs), a Honey Expo; and tasting and sampling sessions at three Post Offices
Mrs. Sealey-Adams also spoke of other promotional activities in which the Corporation is involved to promote local products locally, regionally and extra regionally. These ultimately leads to the formation of important linkages for agro-processors.
“Regionally, we have participated in events to promote your (agro-processors) local products. This resulted in linkages where the Corporation facilitated sending samples of products of interest to potential buyers. Notably, this resulted in products such as coconut oil and preserved carambola fruits being exported,” Mrs Sealey-Adams told the small gathering.
Apart from participating in regional tradeshows, GMC has also provided support for agro-processors to market their product internationally.
“…we also continue to provide support to our Agro-processors to participate in trade shows and exhibitions. For instance, in 2017 we supported our Agro-processors in their participation of SIAL Trade show. SIAL Canada is now the only event of its scale in Canada, with more than 1,000 national and international exhibitors from 50 countries hosting over 18,500 buyers. Additionally, earlier in this month, we also provided support to some of our Agro-processors who participated in a Trade show that was held in Miami.”
The General Manager said the GMC will continue to engage local supermarkets and other retail shops to have local products sold nationwide.