Essequibo Agro Trade Expo 2018 opens

DPI, GUYANA, Saturday, April 21, 2018

Making its second mark in Pomeroon-Supenaam, Region Two, the Essequibo Agro and Trade Expo 2018 once again brought the region to life attracting scores of residents and visitors to the Anna Regina Community Centre Ground, last evening.

The two-day Expo is being hosted by the Essequibo Chamber of Commerce (ECC) under the theme “Essequibo means business” and saw over 80 booths occupied by predominantly local businesses, exhibiting products and services.

Declaring the event open, Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin reminded the gathering of the integral role both the private sector and the government play in the country’s development. “When we talk about development we are talking about business: private sector creating wealth governments building roads and bridges,” the minister elaborated.

He reminded that, despite its size, Guyana holds immense wealth such as gold, diamond, bauxite, fertile lands, exotic birds and fishes to name a few. This wealth, he said, “are blessings worthy to be celebrated and if used appropriately by the private sector and government can spur development.”

The Minister recognised the Region’s vast potential, specifically citing the examples of the rice cereal factory and a fish pond, he recently visited. These, he said, have the potential to penetrate international markets.

Turning his attention to the budding oil and gas sector, the Business Minister expanded on the potential wealth to be reaped. “By the first quarter of 2020, Guyana will be producing oil. We have to make sure we are prepared to retain oil revenue in Guyana. The money gained will be divided into oil produce-75 percent and oil profit – 25 percent which Guyana receives. By the third phase of the exploration, the government will have high revenue from oil. There will be more money spent in the economy. This will increase business across the board,” Minister Gaskin underlined.

Chairman of ECC, Deleep Singh charged the gathering to consume and support the local industry.  He similarly pointed out that the Cinderella county has untapped potential for growth with many established and emerging businesses, despite challenges.

“Make full use of all the opportunities that are here. There is potential for vertical growth in agr0-processing, tourism, business among others,” he said.

The ECC Chairman boasted of the significant contributions the body has made to the development of Region Two, in partnership with Regional Administration and other stakeholders. Singh cautioned that the expo must not be seen as an avenue for just celebration but also an opportunity for businesses, young entrepreneurs, government and people to raise awareness and build networks.

“We have to do better in marketing. We can build a stronger economic hub creating employment for our young people…We need our commodities to directly leave Essequibo to international markets,” Singh emphasised.

He also pointed out some areas for improvement to make this a reality, including infrastructure, ports and harbours, internet services and education.

In brief remarks, Regional Executive Officer, Rupert Hopkinson noted the importance of the private sector which he says contributes significantly to a country’s development. The REO commended the effort of the ECC to make the event a success. He also used the opportunity to emphasise the importance of cooperation, which will drive development in the region.

“Unless we work together and unify, development will take a longer time. Let’s put aside our differences as we build a better region. Let us dedicate our energy towards the unity and prosperity of Guyana,” Hopkinson advised.

Regional Vice Chairman, Juliet Kunja also applauded the ECC for ensuring the event remains an annual one. She outlined some of the challenges the region faces even as it celebrates this significant achievement, “Critical support is needed… In moving forward let us use opportunities to pursue regional development.”

Also making brief remarks was former Member of Parliament and Historian, Isahak Bashir who highlighted the significant developments the region has seen in just three years. He stated, “We are moving forward and we don’t want to be left out of this fight to go forward. This activity will reawaken private sectors to move Essequibo forward. We have terrific agriculture potential and we need proper people to manage them. There are job opportunities but people don’t want to work and even if they want to, they work for four hours so people have to change their mindset.”

Besides the numerous booths on display, the audience was treated to dance, poetry, singing and Tassa drumming among other activities.

By: Ranetta La Fleur