Packaging booster for agriculture
Guyana Chronicle
April 5, 2007

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THE construction of an $89M storage and packaging facility at Parika on the East Bank Essequibo is another significant step in the development of the crucial agriculture sector in this country.

The contract was signed Tuesday and according to officials, the plant, to be completed within seven months, will cater for the preparation of all agricultural exports, from post harvest to cleaning, washing, drying, packaging and cold storage.

Supported by more than 10,000 acres of arable land that is of direct benefit to 3,000 farmers, it will be the first modern agro-processing centre in the country and part of the wider government vision to ensure a successful agricultural diversification programme, with particular emphasis on non-traditional crops, the Government Information Agency (GINA) noted.

At the signing ceremony, Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud said the “positive downstream cash impact for the non-traditional agricultural producers will be control over a greater portion of the value chain and thus supporting a greater financial benefit and better rate of return for their investments.”

In an important advance for farmers, the project would also lead to longer shelf life of agricultural produce and contribute to better marketing opportunities and prices for planters, an official said.

The centre will be complemented by a concrete wharf that would be advantageous for shipping directly to available markets and create an opening for farmers to develop sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards.

It will be geared to accept the best quality produce and a certification process would be developed, so those farmers who are certified will be given first preference.

The site of the packaging plant is also significant in that Parika, identified for township status, is the central point for economic activities in Regions Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam) and Three (West Demerara/Essequibo Islands), including from Parika Back, the Essequibo riverain communities and islands.

The government is building the plant through the Poor Rural Communities Support Services Project (PRCSSP), with support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

As PRCSSP Manager, Mr. Sasenarine Singh noted, the venture is very important to national development because it would aid economic advancement.

He pointed out that the non-traditional crops sector is one of the main factors pushing economic development and the new packaging would help promote it.

The packaging plant is yet another crucial investment in shoring up the agriculture sector and would no doubt boost the income of farmers, many of whom had for too long been relegated to the lower rungs in society.