Export of non-traditional crops earned Guyana $721M in 2002
--Says GINA

Guyana Chronicle
May 27, 2003

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PLANTAINS, watermelons, limes, pineapples, pumpkins and other locally grown non-traditional crops have made headway into a large number of regional and extra-regional markets. The non-traditional crops export for 2002 earned this country $721M.

Export of non-traditional crops to both regional and extra-regional markets increased from approximately 2,997 tonnes of produce in 1997 to 4,111 tonnes in 2002, stated a report issued by the Government Information Agency (GINA)

Exports to regional markets have increased significantly each year from 883 tonnes in 1997 to 1,861 tonnes in 2002 while export to extra-regional markets increased from 2,113 tonnes to 2,249 tonnes.

The regional markets include Barbados, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Extra-regional markets include Canada, France, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Suriname, the Netherlands and West Germany.

Guyana exports more than 35 non-traditional products to Barbados and at the same time Canada is importing more commodities from Guyana than any other extra-regional country.

In 2002, Canada imported 222 tonnes of mangoes, 40 tonnes of bora, 19 tonnes of saeme, 16 tonnes of hot pepper, 12 tonnes of pineapples, nine tonnes of genip, seven tonnes of squash, six tonnes of boulangers, five tonnes of sapodilla, five tonnes of awara, five tonnes of bananas, three tonnes of poi callaloo, three tonnes of mammee and three tonnes of dried thyme.

During 2002, Barbados imported 286 tonnes of plantains, 127 tonnes of pineapples, 90 tonnes of watermelons, 63 tonnes of limes, 38 tonnes of pumpkins, ten tonnes of cucumbers, seven tonnes of oranges, six tonnes of bora, six tonnes of eddoes, four tonnes of passion fruit, four tonnes of tomatoes, four tonnes of dry coconuts and three tonnes of boulangers.

It is anticipated that the export of non-traditional crops will continue to grow during this year.

Some 293 tonnes of fresh fruits and vegetables were exported from Guyana to Barbados for the first four months of last year while for the corresponding period this year, 320 tonnes were exported. This shows an increase of 27 tonnes.

General Manager of the New Guyana Marketing Corporation (NGMC), Mr. Nizam Hassan, said that plantains have been ranked the highest on the list of non-traditional crops exported from Guyana to Barbados in 2002. He explained that out of the 699 tonnes of the produce exported to Barbados, 315 tonnes were plantains. In 2001, out of the overall export of 498 tonnes 281 tonnes were plantains.

Hassan added that plantains still remained at the top of the list for the first four months of this year, with 320 tonnes exported for this period to Barbados.

He said that watermelons are now the second-ranked fruit produce to be exported from Guyana to Barbados while limes are in third place. It was noted that during 2002, watermelons were ranked third while limes were in the fourth place. In 2002, pineapples were the second-ranked commodity to be exported from Guyana, but for the first four months of this year, pineapple has moved down to the fourth place.

It was noted that one factor that contributed to the increase of non-traditional crops exports was the establishment of the Central Packaging Facility (CPF). The facility, which was established in 2001 at the Sophia Exhibition Centre, is being managed by the NGMC.

Several exporters are using the facility to process and package fresh produce for export on a weekly basis.

Mr. Hassan explained that the building which houses the CPF had to be upgraded to meet specific standards to be used as the pack-house for the fruits, vegetables and ground provision.

He added that the building was rehabilitated to control rodents and insects. Draining tables and washbasins were also constructed and the roof was raised to allow better ventilation.

Hassan noted that the export of non-traditional crops has attracted substantial investors.

Public exhibitions and awareness programmes also helped to boost exports. The Buy Local Campaign, which promotes products that are grown and made in Guyana, helped to increase exports. The Buy Local Campaign has become an annual event whereby several exhibitions are held in different parts of the country to promote locally grown and locally made produce.

Hassan pointed out that several seminars were held with farmers and exporters to educate them about proper handling of commodities to prevent damage. He added that technical training programmes were also held with farmers and exporters.

The technical projects were conducted by the NGMC in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Guyana Economic Opportunities (GEO) project.

According to Hassan, proper post-harvest techniques were introduced to farmers and are being put into practice in several areas. Some post-harvest techniques that were introduced include ‘sleeving’ of banana and plantain, the waxing of fruits and vegetables, and the de-greening of all types of citrus.

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