Increased food security for Region 9 – farine factories take root in North Rupununi
Georgetown, GINA, May 10, 2016
Two farine factories are underway in the villages of Wowetta and Moco Moco in Region Nine that will guarantee food security for residents and create employment for mostly women.
During the recent Ministerial outreach to the region, led by Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin, the senior officials were briefed on the construction and progress of two factories.
Wowetta Women’s Agro Processors Group’s chairperson, Priscilla Torres explained that the approximately $40 million Canadian/ Guyana project will provide much needed employment once completed within the next few months. She explained that the building will be fully equipped, “and we can see more youths being employed there in different areas.” She added that the workforce of mostly women will be employed via a weekly shift system.
The farine factory which is one aspect of the project will be operated next to a 30-acre plot of land which has been set aside for cassava cultivation to supply the factory.
The women have been trained and empowered for the management of the project. Ugandan volunteer, Patrick Kyambadde, CUSCO Volunteer, explained the three main components of the project are disaster preparedness, business development and food handling. “When you look at food handling, you are looking at quality and safety issues. When we look at disaster preparedness, we want this facility to have 10,000 pounds of farine at any given time, so that in the event of any disaster, this facility will be able to provide assistance.”
The Moco Moco Village project factory is expected to be completed in June at a similar cost as the Wowetta facility. The Project Manager, Analisa Torquarto said that the factory will not only boost employment, but also ensure that farine and other cassava-based products are readily available for the Indigenous community and others in the surrounding areas.
Minister within the Ministry of Finance, Jaipaul Sharma pledged to ensure that the Agriculture Ministry through the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) provides the requested planting material and other technical assistance. “NAREI will be looking at the requested materials in terms of limestone and other bio-materials which will be added to your soil to enrich it so you have a bountiful harvest.”
He also proffered the assistance of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) which is engaged in a rice cultivation project close to the communities. This agency has expertise in crop irrigation and the same services could be used to assist in terms of water supply management.
Both facilities are challenged to obtain a steady supply of clean water. Fencing is also a challenge to keep out livestock and other animals. The residents also requested additional planting materials, substantial portions of which were lost due to the recent drought. Additional funding is being sought for both factories to overcome these issues. These were explained to the Ministers, all of whom lauded the residents, especially the women, for the ventures.
Minister Sharma also suggested that the residents use the technical training services offered by the Guyana School of Agriculture, along with that of the New Guyana Marketing Corporation. The latter, Minister Sharma said, will train residents in how to package and market their products in a safe, environmentally sound manner. Funding, he added, could possibly be addressed via the Basic Needs Trust Fund.
The effort to establish the factories, particularly by the women, was also lauded by Minister within the Ministry of Natural Resources, Simona Broomes. She described the group as a “real group” with “passion and commitment.”
The Minister urged that their plans be managed and kept as the business will eventually go international. She also called on the residents to obey the laws and not employ under-aged youths. Government, the Minister said, is “pushing an open door” in terms of support it will give to startup ventures such as these. She also promised to supply the groups with branded T-shirts once their logos had been finalised.
In brief remarks, Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock called on residents to “own” their projects and keep them going. He also reminded stakeholders to deal with issues and not personalities. “We would be able, like the game of football, when we score this goal, all of us will enjoy it, even those who are not with you. It is because of how you do it.”