Processing facility for Bonasika Creek – President Ali

– Says regional ferry system to operate from Parika

His Excellency President Dr Irfaan Ali on Tuesday announced that a processing facility will be built at Bonasika Creek to support farmers to enhance their production of ginger and other vegetables.

The announcement comes on the heels of a high volume of ginger production in the community and the challenge of finding markets.

President Ali said the community, which has accelerated ginger production in recent years, has been able to produce 240,000 tonnes of ginger annually.

“We are going to build in this area a processing facility so we can take the fresh ginger, dry it and crush it. It will extend the storage time from weeks to months and access higher value markets.”

He also told residents of Lower and Upper Bonasika Creek and neighbouring villages, during an outreach to the Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) community, that the intention is to create a production system that integrates all communities in the area in the formation of a “processing hub”.

He stressed that these measures would enable persons to go beyond the traditional methods of farming and food production, thereby building and creating wealth.

“The conversation is changing now. It is no longer about only producing food. It is how we now translate production into storage, add transportation to it, create higher value and access more markets.”

The President said the integration of communities in food production is integral for “large-scale production”.

The construction of the facility, he noted, will support the Government’s vision for beyond 2025 and the future economic growth of the community.

The Head of State disclosed that he was particularly pleased with the manner in which the community has been using investments in agriculture to their advantage.

“You are making use of the investment we’re making and we are proud of this. But we have to triple this production, and we are going to support you in tripling this production,” he said to a loud applause from residents.

Through agricultural support, which includes drainage and irrigation, the small riverain community has been able to produce a high volume of fruits, cash crops and tubers. Over the last few years, close to $1bn has been spent on drainage and irrigation projects in the community in support of over 300 farmers.

“I know you have produced about 50 tonnes of bananas, more than 200,000 pounds of pumpkin and in cassava and other kinds of provision, you have produced more than 120 tonnes…We want to be able to move to large-scale production here,” the President asserted.

Regional Ferry Operation

According to the Head of State, this increase in production will give the community the opportunity to tap into the Caribbean food market and support the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) objective of reducing 25 per cent of food imports by 2025.

President Ali, while addressing residents of the agricultural base community, said the Government is working steadfastly and diligently to have a regional ferry service, which is a tripartite agreement between Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados, to operate out of Parika.

“…The good thing about here is that we could export directly to CARICOM from here, you don’t need to transport to Georgetown and all these places. That is why we are pushing so hard to get the regional ferry because the regional ferry will operate out of Parika so that we can have all of the production from these islands integrated into the regional market.”

Viable Food Production

Moreover, he called on young people and women to get involved in agriculture and said that the Government is going to work with them through special programmes.

“We know that agriculture and food production are going to be viable, profitable and competitive, and we are investing in infrastructure to give you the best possible life in agriculture and food production.”

In this regard, the President said that the Government will soon launch an Agricultural Entrepreneurship Innovation Programme to support integrated farming on 300 acres of land. He added that the Ministry of Agriculture will work with the community to expand cassava and plantain production to meet the demands of the market.

The Ministry will also introduce marine cage farming along with prawns and brackish water shrimp farming and honey production in the community.

“So these are some of the new things that we are going to try. This is a new production system we’re going to build as we build out a sustainable food ecosystem here.”

Additionally, after listening to the concerns of the villagers, the President committed to providing a tractor and trailer to the community to support its agricultural drive. Seeds, farming tools and tillers were handed over to the residents to kick-start the entrepreneurship initiative.

He also informed the community that a fisherman’s wharf would be constructed before the end of the year.

President Ali was accompanied by the Minister of Agriculture, the Honourable Zulfikar Mustapha; the Minister within the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, the Honourable Anand Persaud, and several technical officers.