Major event for the agro-processing sector
THE GUYANA Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) on July 19th 2017 launched “Guyanese FlavoursUncapped”, an agro-processors exhibition, market and food festival geared to boost the marketing capacity of local agro-processors.
In attendance were Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin, as well as several heads of private sector entities including the President of the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GSMA), Shyam Nokta; Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Institute of Private Enterprise Development (IPED), Ramesh Persaud; Vice-President of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), Desmond Sears; and President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Deodat Indar.
The event which will be held on October 27- 29, 2017 is expected to feature some 80- 100 local exhibitors who will be given the opportunity to showcase and market their products.
GMSA’s President, Shyam Nokta, said that the GMSA is pleased to collaborate with the Ministry of Business, IPED and Sterling Products Limited, to take a leading role in preparing for the event. According to Mr. Nokta, “While there are challenges which we would like to see addressed, the GMSA has recognised the need to showcase what manufacturers and agro-processors are already doing,” he related.
Emphasis will be placed on marketing small and medium scale processors and helping them synergise with organisations such as The Institute of Private Enterprise Development (IPED) that has been supporting small and medium scale businesses as well as networking with larger entities such as Sterling Products Limited as part of a value chain.
The GMSA President also indicated that the exhibition is not a “one-off” activity but the beginning of a series of similar exhibitions showcasing locally manufactured products. Further, he took the opportunity to speak on food and agro-products within the Caribbean region – which is a net-importer of food – spending in excess of US$4B every year, which he said is an increase of 50 percent since the year 2000. He pointed out that, “We are going to double the amount of spending on food in the region by 2020,” This scenario, he said, provides an opportunity for countries like Guyana, a producer of food and agro-products and agro-businesses to step up to the “plate.” However, in reflecting on the current reality where several imported items found in supermarkets, can be produced here, Mr. Nokta indicated that “This often begs the questions, ‘Are we showcasing? Are we marketing what we produce sufficiently and is there enough support being provided to local products?’
Mr. Nokta stressed that agro-processing has been around as long as agriculture in Guyana and it continues to play a critical role in the livelihood and well-being of a large section of the Guyanese population – both on the coast and in the hinterland.He went on to say that while many businesses have access to regional markets, most of their products are unknown in the domestic market place. It is against this backdrop, that the GMSA came up with this initiative, he explained.
According to Business Minister Dominic Gaskin, who also addressed the launching, Guyanese are pressuring themselves by importing foods that can be produced here.
According to the Minister, Guyana has abundant resources to establish a productive sector that can not only cater for the needs of locals but also the global market. He further added that the launch presents a unique opportunity for local businesses to network and market their products.Local producers and processors would also be able to share ideas and strategies to assist in the overall development of the sector.The Ministerindicated that the Ministry of Business is looking at several initiatives to help industries and which require some assistance to become viable and sustainable and that the event was part of a wider initiative to boost the local production and manufacturing sectors. Accordingto Minister Gaskin, “The event will not just be a business event or just an agro-event but also, a food security initiative.” He indicatedthat it will feature “Guyanese foods from Guyanese farms”.“This is how we intend to build our capacity to feed ourselves and to feed others, to make agriculture and agro-processing an important part of our national economy and our national security in a way that is sustainable.” “Our economy simply cannot sustain an appetite for foreign food. We’re pressuring ourselves unnecessarily by importing foods that we can very well be producing. “Ultimately, I think we all want to support our local producers. Our local food has value, it has nutrients, and it has flavor. This is what we want to uncap at Agro-processors exhibition, Market and Food Festival.”“The Ministry of Business recognizes the importance of business-support organizations such as the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association and we are giving our commitment to working with these associations to help develop local industries.” Minister Gaskin also said that the event should be used as a forum for sharing information about market requirements with producers and bringing them into contact with businesses and consumers who may be interested in their products.
‘Guyanese Flavour Uncapped’ is being promoted as an event to not only showcase products but also a place to do business and there will be opportunity to interact with several Agencies including GOINVEST and IPED.
Over the coming weeks, more information will be available on the details of the event. Local agro producers and manufacturers are encouraged to take up booth spaces and to promote the event. Details on ‘Guyanese Flavour Uncapped’ can also be obtained from the GMSA Secretariat.