Major works needed before Orealla factory can be resuscitated – Toshao
The Orealla Cheese Factory has been out of operation for over a decade and is now in a deplorable state. The government recently announced plans to reopen the factory but the Toshao, Carl Penux, during an interview with the News Room, said that major works will need to be done in order to resuscitate the factory.
“It will have to have major works because there was a solar power system set up and it is not functioning anymore. I don’t know what became of the batteries…the last managers caused the system to deteriorate and it is not functioning any longer,” the Toshao explained.
A packaging and sealing machine at the factory is also not operable while the water system and lighting are not in working condition.
No assessment was ever done to determine if it is even feasible to reopen the factory, however, the Toshao explained that the factory would greatly benefit the community more than it did over 20 years ago.
“I think it can be feasible once we get the necessary equipment and I believe it would be helpful to the community, it will provide some employment there and we are trying to do eco-tourism in Orealla and Siparauta so if we start to produce our own local craft it can be good for our community and tourism drive,” the Toshao said.
The factory started operations in 1995 by a Belgium couple – Mark Goffin and Oaude Niffle – who vacationed in the village and saw unemployment as an issue and decided to do something about it.
“They noticed that there was unemployment and they decided that when they returned to Belgium that they will find a way to help the community and so that was the project they talked about and implement it with help from NGOs in Belgium,” the Toshao explained.
Five years later, the factory was left in the hands of an all-female committee in the village and a year later ceased operation completely. The factory produced cherry, mango and pineapple fruit cheese which was exported to the Caribbean and Europe.
“The committee carried on for about a year and then things started to go out of order, they lost the market first of all and that is the most important thing to market the products.”
The Toshao explained that the original arrangement with the Belgium couple was to hand over the factory to the village after 25 years. The previous Village Council in 2018 made the decision to hand over the factory to a Farmer’s Association who never did anything substantial with it. Once the factory is reopened, the Toshao explained that they do not plan on restarting the fruit cheese operation.
“We are thinking of doing other products, such as local snacks in the factory-like plantain chips, sweet cassava chips, jam…package our cassava bread and cassareep and other products,” the Toshao explained.
The government also announced the potential development of the Tarakuli bauxite deposit, located about 10 miles from Orealla and is one of the largest untouched deposit in Guyana.
This will see massive developments in the health, education and transportation sector for the village.