‘Made in Kwakwani – adding a dash of flavour

– Kwakwani women agro-processors empowering themselves with pepper and green seasoning business

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Kwakwani women are answering the call of President David Granger to diversify and are processing and bottling viable raw material ingredients.

The women of this small Region 10 community are empowering themselves financially as they pioneer the first agro-processing business in the area, and train others to follow their example.

Nathelyn Benn-Dequoy’s ‘Made in Kwakwani’ line is a small-scale manually manufactured pepper sauce and green seasoning venture, made from ingredients found right within arm’s reach. She very carefully selects and manually processes onion, garlic, various green leafy herbs such a thyme, eshallot and celery with a dash of pepper, ginger, salt and already packaged powered seasonings to make her one of a kind bottled green seasoning.

Benn-Dequoy makes five gallons of seasonings within days, as large quantities are also pre-ordered. Similarly, bottled seasonings can be found in groceries. Dequoy noted that residents love her ingredients and the high-quality of her product.

As the demand grew quickly, assistance was sought from others within the community. Realising that communal entrepreneurship is more beneficial to the development of the entire community, Dequoy opted to share her agro-processing skills with others, making it a women’s empowerment movement.

She was amazed by the response as other women came on board to make it a community project. “It was always my heart’s desire to see this movement in my community, and I have encouraged other women and taught them the necessary skills to manage similar businesses because when I am not around, other women will be able to fill in and keep the customers supplied,” Dequoy noted.

One of the women who was taught by Dequoy and now makes her own bottled seasonings and peppers is Lavern Padmori. She commenced her agro-processing venture two years ago and can today testify to its expansion. Padmori says her immediate goal is to focus on the quality of both the product and the packaging, as she believes this will attract more customers.

Branching out

After realising the many benefits of agro-processing, Dequoy began making local processed fruits by utilising the surplus of fruit in the community. “I decided to take those fruits and process them. Today, I send over 400 pounds of locally processed fruits to New Amsterdam to sell; I send to Canje, East Coast and neighbouring villages such as Aoriama,” she related.

Dequoy believes that this agro-processing venture can also be the answer to social ills such as teenage pregnancy, school-drop outs and unemployment in the community. She is calling for the relevant authorities to initiate training programmes in the community, in order for young girls to learn similar skills in agro-processing and empower themselves.

Story and Images: Vanessa Braithwaite.

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