Less than two weeks after commissioning an agro-processing facility in Karaudarnau Village in Region Nine, Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha on Wednesday commissioned a similar facility in Watooka, Linden (Region 10).
The Ministry of Agriculture through the New Guyana Marketing Corporation (New GMC) expended some $23.6 million to construct and outfit the facility providing much-needed agro-processing services to approximately 600 persons in and around the region.
Minister Mustapha in his address at the commissioning noted that the government has made large sums of money available to fund initiatives to develop Guyana’s agro-processing sector.
He explained that while farmers are encouraged to produce more, value-added production will enable them to maximize profits and extend the shellfire of their commodities.
“The commissioning of this facility at Watooka clearly indicates the ongoing development in the agriculture sector. Our farmers are producing primary products and are selling them to middlemen. There is no value added. We sell our fruits and we are purchasing juices from overseas. So, at the ministry level, a decision was taken to develop these facilities because we have sufficient products to help our farmers get involved in value-added production. When we do this, our country is able to move to a higher level. We are not only focused on primary production. Now our farmers are having these facilities because this government is interested in development, especially in the agriculture sector,” he explained.
Minister Mustapha also said that over the last three years, approximately 300 new agro-processed products were introduced through collaboration and support from the New GMC.
He added that by the end of 2023, some 13 agro-processing facilities will be commissioned and put into operation to assist farmers in rural areas with value-added production.
While noting that Guyana produces most of the food consumed locally, Minister Mustapha said that focus is being placed on increasing production in order to lower Guyana’s and the region’s food import bill.
“We, in Guyana, are very fortunate because we are producing 60% of the food we are consuming. But, as a government, we are not satisfied with only 60%. We are still importing a number of commodities that we can produce locally. A lot of effort and emphasis is being placed on ensuring farmers are able to produce more and have the necessary infrastructure and inputs to do so. We are also working at the level of CARICOM to lower the regional food import bill,” he added.
New GMC’s General Manager Teshawna Lall said that the establishment of the facility stands as a testament to the government’s commitment to bolster commercial agro-processing within the region. She added that the facility was constructed and outfitted to satisfy international standards, fortified with efficient technology to minimize wastage and spoilage.
The facility is said to have the capacity to produce in excess of 4,300 liters of sauces and seasonings monthly and is equipped with an array of machinery such as mixers, blenders, stoves, stainless steel containers, heavy-duty scales, and chillers. It also has the capacity to operate on a 24-hour base offering mechanized processes to allow for lower operational expenses. (Ministry of Agriculture press release)