New GMC commissions Guyana’s first Agri-Business Development Incubator

three ATVs, two refrigerated trucks also commissioned

Last Friday, the New Guyana Marketing Corporation (New GMC) launched Guyana’s first Agri-Business Development Incubator. The facility, which is housed in the New GMC’s La Bonne Intention Office, will serve as a one-stop shop for agro-processors and other agri-business practitioners.

The facility offers services such as the design and printing of product labels, the generation of barcodes and nutritional facts, assistance with the completion of business registration forms, the completion of Government Analyst-Food and Drug forms, and US Food and Drugs-Administration registration. Persons can also seek advice on processing and packaging facilities’ requirements in keeping with globally accepted standards.

Equipment which forms part of the Agri- Business Development Incubator that is used to design and print product labels

The exercise also saw the commissioning of three ATVs and two four-tonne refrigerated trucks. The ATVs will be used to serve farmers in outlying areas in Mabaruma, Kamarang, and Linden. The trucks will be used to further complement the existing cold storage facilities at the Central Packaging Facility in Georgetown and the Parika Agro-Processing Facility.

In his address at the commissioning, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha, MP, said agencies like the New GMC have a critical role to play in developing Guyana’s agriculture sector. Minister Mustapha also said that with the efforts being placed now to reorganise, refocus, and restructure the Corporation, the Government will be making key investments to stimulate the production of more high-quality value-added products for both domestic consumption and export.

“For five years, prior to August 2020, sectors like the agriculture sector were neglected. No effort or major investments were made to develop and modernize such a critical sector but today we are seeing a change. Investments like what we are here to commission will enhance not only the country’s development but also our country’s position in taking its rightful place as an agriculture powerhouse in the region.

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha

“Today’s exercise alone represents an investment of over $26 million. With these key investments, the government is taking the necessary steps to move Guyana from being a primary producer to a country capable of creating more value-added products for both domestic consumption and export while enhancing the capabilities of our farmers and producers,” Minister Mustapha said.

The Minister also said that Guyana cannot achieve food security if the necessary facilities are not in place.

“One of the Ministry’s aims is to ensure Guyana has food security but we cannot have food security if we do not have the necessary facilities. If we are going to be the country to lead the agri-food system agenda in the Caribbean then we have to invest in infrastructure so that we can modernize, improve, and develop the sector.

“This year, the Government will be investing in approximately nine agro-processing facilities across the country. These facilities will not only be in urban areas. We are making these investments across the country targeting rural areas as well. We are also working in tandem with the private sector to form meaningful public-private-partnerships,” Minister Mustapha said.

Minister Mustapha hands over the keys to the trucks to the New GMC’s General Manager, Teshawna Lall

General Manager of the New GMC, Ms. Teshawana Lall, said the investments will positively contribute to the Corporation’s improvements, both internally and externally, while further providing an enabling environment to improve the capacities of its stakeholders.

“The ATVs will be used by GMC’s Agriculture Extension Officers mainly in the Hinterland Regions, to determine farmers’ scale of production, inform them of GMC’s services, link them to buyers, and address marketing concerns.

The ATVs that were commissioned

“This will further support the improvement of GMC’s farmers and agro-processors database in addition to having information readily accessible to stakeholders. Furthermore, maintaining the cold chain of perishable agriculture commodities during transport is imperative to its shelf life and marketability. As such, these two 20ft refrigerated trucks will assist with the increased requests by our local stakeholders, especially farmers, exporters, and supermarket operators,” Ms. Lall said.

While speaking on the Agri-Business Development Incubator, Ms. Lall said the facility will play an integral role in assisting potential and existing agro-processors, at one central location, to access guidance on completing and processing all the necessary documentation for agro-processing. She also said that the facility will be working closely with supporting agencies to speed up the time it takes to process critical documents.

The trucks that were commissioned

Chairman of GMC’s Board of Directors, Mr. David Fernandes said the investment targets three very important steps in the value chain.

“Noteworthy is the fact that today’s ceremony is targeting three very important steps in the value chain; extension, transportation, and agro-processors support. Everything here is being given to support entrepreneurs’ needs to improve their ability to compete locally, regionally, and internationally.

“With the handing over of these ATVs and trucks, we expect that GMC’s officers will be more adequately equipped to reach farmers and agro-processors in distant communities and to better cater to their concerns,” Mr. Fernandes said.

Minister Mustapha and other officials with locally produced products on display in the Agri-Business Development Incubator

Enhancing the services of agencies like the New GMC have become even more critical given the effects the recent flooding had on the agriculture sector. Only recently President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali announced a multi-billion dollar relief package targeting farmers, who were directly affected by flooding.

Minister Mustapha said the assistance, which will be in the form of a direct cash injection, will serve as a means of helping those who were affected with returning to the land.

“Only recently, His Excellency, President Irfaan Ali made a pronouncement on the way forward as it pertains to the recent flooding and how the government intends to help those who were directly affected. “We’ll be seeing an investment of $7.6 billion being made available to farmers who were affected by the recent flooding across the country. This investment will serve as a means of helping those farmers to go back to the land. That alone speaks of a caring government and a government that is investing in its people,” Minister Mustapha said.