The Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce is actively playing its part in ensuring food security by supporting small businesses involved in the agriculture sector.
Minister Oneidge Walrond said the government has been supporting agriculture by building a robust system and investing billions of dollars in various agricultural initiatives to ensure a sustainable future.
Minister Walrond made the statement while speaking at the official opening of GuyExpo 2023, at the Sophia Exhibition Complex Thursday evening.
“At the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, we have been very much in sync with the rollout of this vision. Currently, there are functional incubators at Belvedere and Lethem, which offer high-quality agro-processing facilities and office and pod rentals at affordable cost…They offer shared production facilities and a high potential for marketing opportunities for those farmers utilising the centres.
Every day our processors are utilising these facilities producing virgin coconut oil, indigenous flowers, dried peppers, achar, seasonings, and various indigenous black teas, to name a few,” Minister Walrond told the gathering.
She noted that more than 41,000 packages of tea and 60 centilitres of coconut oil have been produced since the incubators began operation.
Minister Walrond said the facilities provide an important launching pad for agro-processors to produce and package quality products.
“Since 2020, government through the Small Business Bureau (SBB) has supported over 600 small businesses with convenient trading space, to market and promote their businesses at various events: market days, local, regional, and international trade expos, and the Guyana Energy Conference,” she stated.
According to the minister, the exposure is designed to showcase our local products with a vision of tapping into export markets in direct support of our small businesses.
The SBB has issued over 2,500 grants valued at close to $700 million over the past three years.
The Bureau also guaranteed approximately $600 million in loans through its partner financial institutions including loans to clients with disabilities.
“Our president has clearly articulated that now is a time for post-oil production and has identified agriculture and tourism as two key sectors along with the manufacturing and service sectors. GuyExpo is a platform by which we can, year by year, showcase our advances in these and other sectors and thereby give proof to our progress towards achieving our strategic objectives,” Minister Walrond noted. (Department of Public Information)