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Sunday, July 18, 2010

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Investment growing – Investors testify to stable environment

GINA feature – Leslyn Lowe

Guyana’s investment climate continues to appeal to investors. Data provided supports this claim as it reveals that there has been a significant increase in investments over the years and despite the global economic crisis which impacted severely on developed countries, Guyana’s economy remained stable.
With the exception of decreases in the wood sector initially for 2009 and bauxite exports, Guyana rode the crisis very well and the economy performed well in all other areas.
Head of the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest) Geoff DaSilva stated that the number of projects has been increasing substantially along with the average investment per year as compared to previous years.
Expansion and growth in various sectors
Agriculture
A number of new investments was made in Region 9 where approximately 70,000 acres of land will be utilized to facilitate three large projects in Pirara, Rupununi where both Caribbean and North American companies have invested in soybean, livestock, cattle and rice.
A target of 230 projects in the agriculture sector is set for 2010 based on the rapid growth that has been reflected over the past years.

An employee of ACME Geo chemical laboratory preparing a sample for processing.

In the first quarter of 2010 Go-Invest worked with 67 projects, a figure which represented the total number of projects for 2008 in the sector.
This amount increased rapidly in 2009 when 152 projects were facilitated and the sector has seen continued expansion as a result of efforts by Government to develop more medium sized to larger projects.


Services sector
This sector experienced rapid growth aided by new developments in trade between Guyana and Brazil.
There is now a commercial zone in Lethem with electricity access, water supply and other facilities in addition to a light manufacturing and trucking zones and truck and bus terminals.
Approximately 40 businesses were granted long term leases to operate in Lethem’s commercial zone with two already in operation while nine are currently under construction.
This includes a number of sub-sectors such as medical, financial and retail/ wholesale distribution
Construction continues to flourish in this sector which also saw an expansion of established building companies and new companies coming on board.
Readymix cement companies gained substantial investment during the last year with three new companies coming on board.
In 2007 “Readymix” was the only company providing ready mix cement in the sector and most of the construction work had to be done manually using traditional methods.
Today, there are four ready mix cement companies owned by both Guyanese and foreigners among which are BK International, Toolsie Persaud Limited and the original company “Readymix” which continues to operate in Guyana.
A target of 160 projects has been set for the sector which also includes sub-sectors such as medical, financial and retail/wholesale distribution. A total of 150 projects were aided in this sector in 2009, far surpassing the initial target of 57.
Light manufacturing
Companies are also venturing into different areas of investment in the light manufacturing sector where major companies are investing in the manufacturing of products or inputs for construction of products that were previously imported such as windows, steel rods and water tanks.


An employee preparing materials to be used in making windows.

This, DaSilva said is very significant since it means that more foreign exchange is being saved and more employment is created. Another benefit is the assurance of better and timely delivery of the product as opposed to previously when construction progressed slowly because of the amount of time it took to source building materials especially since the construction sector has been continually expanding and demand remains high.


Growth in the financial /medical sub-sectors
A visit to the Diamond New Housing Scheme will convince almost anyone of the sustained growth in the financial sector. There are currently three banks under construction in the emerging town.
            Though there is a significant increase in Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in terms of foreign projects, there is a more rapid increase in local investments as reflected in the number of local companies that is investing in Guyana.

A new private hospital under construction in Belvedere, Corentyne, Region 6.

This sector has also recorded an expansion in areas of micro credit and medical facilities as seen by the ongoing partnerships between the Georgetown Public Hospital and other foreign entities.
There is also a new investment in a private hospital under construction in Belvedere, Berbice.

Information Communication Technology (ICT)
This sector has seen huge investments which will continue this year with Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T) investing US$30M and Government in partnership with Brazil investing between US $15M and $40M in fibre optic cables.
Additional investments are being made in two new call centres this year which are expected to provide employment for 5000 people.
Investments in this sector, though not as large as other sectors provide huge employment and positive spin-offs since it is non-traditional and low carbon.
Wood sector
In the wood sector there was a decline in early 2009 which subsequently changed as new investors ventured into production.
According to DaSilva, 70 projects are targeted for this year in the wood sector.
Tourism
This sector has been growing consistently over the last 15-18 years as emphasis is now placed on encouraging more investment in eco-lodges which are needed to grow the industry. 
Go-Invest is currently working with companies in the United States, Dominica and Suriname which have done significant work in this regard.
In addition to Baganara, Rockview and Arrowpoint there is need to increase the accommodation capacity for visitors to the interior in order to advance eco-tourism.
There was an expansion in the hotel industry for the 2007 cricket World Cup which equipped Guyana with over 1000 good quality rooms.
In 2006 over 60 projects in tourism came on stream with the construction of new hotels.
This trend continues with the upgrading of Hotel Tower and Pegasus where significant work will commence.
Go-Invest also worked at facilitating the Princess Hotel’s change in ownership and expansion, the opening of its Casino and the soon opening of an entertainment recreational complex expected later this year.
The Go-Invest Head stated that discussions are underway with the National Bureau of Standards to have tourism defined as a separate sector instead of being recorded under other services, so that when calculating Gross Domestic Product (GDP) its real impact on the economy could be calculated.
Once this is achieved, the impact of its contribution to GDP may be a surprise, DaSilva concluded.
Energy
Emphasis is also being placed on alternative energy sources such as hydro power, wind and solar.
Go-Invest is currently working on six projects including the wind project at Hope Estate.
 In addition to the Amaila Falls hydro project discussions are ongoing for another hydro project with some major Brazilian companies and a number of smaller solar projects in the making.
Meanwhile Takutu Oil will soon commence drilling in the Takutu basin in the Rupununi along with CGX and Exxon which are expected to commence drilling early next year.
Bio mass and other energy sources are also being explored in the context of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) which include different types of trees being grown and harvested for energy.
An ethanol project involving the Guyana Sugar Corportation (GuySuCo) and other projects in bio mass and wind are currently being explored since these have the potential to attract huge investments and foreign exchange.
Mining
Go Invest has worked with five mining projects, but according to DaSilva this does not reflect the reality of what is happening in the mining sector which has seen massive investment.
Foreign Direct Investments
Guyana’s performance in attracting Foreign Direct Investments has been commendable especially in 2008 when according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development World Investment Report 2009 where Guyana was rated 11th in the world. According to DaSilva, when compared to other countries in terms of the size of the economy or Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the number of FDIs gained in one year, Guyana was highly placed. 

Investment trends
In 2010 a target of 613 projects that includes ‘roll overs’ has been set by Go-Invest. This amount exceeds that of 2009 when a target of 325 was set but in reality 457 projects were facilitated in the various sectors while in 2008 a total of 229 projects were aided.
DaSilva outlined diversification as one of the key factors in terms of business activity and investment which is essential to the sustainability of Guyana’s economy.
This he said could only be maintained through additional new sectors and an increase in traditional activities.

Some of the machine parts that were manufactured in Ghamandi's establishment.


New Investments 
Government’s plan to attract more overseas Guyanese investors has been highly successful given the following figures recorded over the past three years.
In 2008, Go-Invest recorded 229 projects of which 44 were overseas Guyanese-owned interests.
In 2009 this number increased to 83 while a target of 112 overseas Guyanese projects has been set for 2010.

The Pegasus Hotel where expansion works are ongoing.

According to DaSilva, the majority of those investments are from Guyanese living in the United States and Canada along with a small number from CARICOM countries.
This, he attributed to the impact of the global financial crisis on the US/Canadian economies which are not as lucrative as before, thus influencing more Guyanese to invest in Guyana.
“We are very happy that Guyanese are coming back and investing especially in the machinery sector, in agriculture, wood and to some extent tourism,” DaSilva said.

Employees at ACME Laboratory at work.

Currently there are machinery entities owned by overseas Guyanese in Enmore, Coldingen and West Berbice which manufacture special parts for equipment in the agricultural and transportation sectors.

Engineering and Computerized Manufacturing Establishment
Overseas Guyanese investor Bob Ghamandi operates an Engineering and Computerized Manufacturing establishment in Enmore, East Coast Demerara. Ghamandi said that “the country is on the right track,” and the progress that is taking place in Guyana is what has inspired him to invest here. Ghamandi manufactures machinery parts and other equipment for both the local and export market. 

Bob Ghamandi demonstrates how to operate a piece of equipment.


Geo-chemical Analysis Laboratory
Acme Labs, a Canadian company which conducts Geo-chemical analysis for large mining companies, also capitalized on the positive investment climate in Guyana.Regional Manager of ACME, Rory Forde attributed Guyana’s stable political and economic climate is what influenced the company to invest here. “Guyana is a very stable country in terms of business investment, there is a stable government in place and it does not have some of the problems that other countries have. The economic environment is also stable,” Forde stated.

Regional Manager of ACME Laboratory Caribbean Rory Forde.


Building materials manufacturing
Gafoors Group of Companies is one manufacturer that has begun bringing forth  new products to benefit from Guyana’s growing economy.

A piece of equipment used in production.

Chief Executive Officer of the Gafoors Group of Companies Mohammed Ali explained that the Company’s expansion and diversification strategy is based on Government’s development plans.
 “The housing sector has shown tremendous growth in the last eight years which is mainly due to the initiative taken by Government to put a roof over everyone’s head. Our diversification and expansion strategy is tied into what is happening in the economy,” he said.

A new private hospital under construction in Belvedere, Corentyne, Region 6

Earlier this year Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Roti Hut/Rituals Guyana Naeem Nasir also alluded to the development transformation in Guyana over the years and Government’s efforts to encourage a private sector which served as the motivational factor behind the $100 M investment in the establishment of the Roti Hut, Rituals Coffee House and Nestle Ice Cream Parlour at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).

Chief Executive Officer of Gafoor's Group of Companies Mohammed Ali.

            “The opening of these stores represents the stability and the confidence of the Government to maintain a positive investment climate in Guyana,” Nasir said.

 

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Labour Ministry takes job fair to Region 5

Georgetown, GINA, July 17, 2010

 

The Ministry of Labour today held a fair at Rosignol, Region Five, to better promote the services of the Ministry in that area.
Booths were set up along the Rosignol market road and in addition to HIV/AIDS testing and counselling and blood pressure testing, visitors there were able to register with the Central Recruitment and Manpower Agency (CRMA) of the Labour Ministry for job placements.

Ministry of Labour job fair booth at Rosignol

            Genevieve Blackman, HIV/AIDS coordinator, Ministry of Labour said that this process is extended for every region and so far five fairs of this nature were held in Regions Two, Six, Seven, Eight and Nine over the course of a year. Regions One, Three and Ten will be covered before the end of the year.
            She noted that the issue of HIV/AIDS in the workplace has become extremely critical, especially recently with all the emphasis being placed on it. One of the responsibilities of the ministry Blackman said is to help organisations and agencies create HIV/AIDS programmes and policies consistent with international standards.
            At these types of fairs, the staff from the CRMA register the names of those interested in finding jobs and those employers desirous of finding quality employees.  Valerie Moore of the CRMA noted that it is because of activities of this nature that the job placement success rate has seen marked improvement.         
Valerie Moore of the Central Recruitment and Manpower Agency, Ministry of Labour chats with residents at the fair booth.

            Moore implored employers to register with the Ministry whenever there are openings within their organizations, as the registrants for jobs far outnumber the vacancies.
            On hand as well in the booths were Labour officers, to help deal specifically with questions related to labour issues and workers’ safety on the job.  
Sarfraz Azeez, one such officer, said it is important for workers to be aware of their rights in the employment process as this will help mitigate against unlawful termination. 
            First Aid workers from the Guyana Red Cross assisted in blood pressure testing and counselling.

 

 

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London University Student conducting mangrove research

Georgetown, GINA, July 17, 2010

The Government has placed significant effort on mangrove restoration, since it functions as a natural sea defence. The Project was first announced by President Bharrat Jagdeo at the commissioning of the Liliendaal pump and in keeping Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). 
            The project is being funded by the Government of Guyana in collaboration with the European Union, with a $125M investment that will cater for the restoration of 11 kilometers of mangrove along the coastline.
It was initiated in February 2010 and includes rehabilitation, protection and sustainable use of resource, monitoring and enforcement of forest legislation.   

Kathrine Robinson, a student from the University College London is at present conducting a study on the importance of mangrove in Guyana.  

Project Manager, Mangrove Restoration Project Manager, Bissasar Chintamanie had indicated that at present mangrove research is ongoing in the Caribbean and Guyana. This would serve well, since appropriate strategies would be sought to work along with the changes occurring alone the coastline.
            With this in mind several persons from around the world have been invited to explore the possibilities of mangrove being used, to protect the coastline from the impact of climate change.
             A student from the University College London, Kathrine Robinson, pursuing a MSc in Anthropology, Environment and Development; is at present conducting a study on the importance of mangrove, as part of her final dissertation.
            The focus of her study is community participation, as it relates to the restoration process, the importance of mangrove to the community, the uses, benefits and the possible alternatives.
            While in Guyana, Robinson has been interacting with the residents of North Mon Repos. Thus far the community has demonstrated its awareness of the mangrove’s purpose as a sea defence.
            It is expected that the study would help to map the way forward in the implementation of the mangrove restoration process.
            Robinson in receiving support from National Agricultural Research Institute, Environmental Protection Agency, Mangrove Action Committee, Mangrove Project Office and the University of Guyana.
            Chintamanie indicated that other communities are also involved in project. The pilot areas are Hope, East Coast; Number 6 Village on the West Coast of Berbice; Number 43 Village on the Corentyne, Wakenaam in Region 3 and Lima, Region 2.         
            Rangers would be employed to protect the mangrove seedlings from destruction by stray animals and ruminants, to ensure that the project is successful.
            Public awareness campaigns are on-going, aimed at informing the public about the importance of mangrove and how it helps in climate change mitigation.

 

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WOW project taken to Region Six- putting tools in single parents hands…

Georgetown, GINA, July 17, 2010

Government throughout its time in office has constantly demonstrated its commitment to improving the lives of its vulnerable sections in society.
Today’s activity was no exception as the services of the recently unveiled Women of Worth (WOW), micro-credit scheme was taken to Region Six (East Berbice/ Corentyne).

The gathering during the introduction of the Women of Worth (WOW), project in Region Six (East Berbice/ Corentyne).

            The initiative which gives single parents an opportunity to own their own business, saw the participation of a high-powered team, from the Human Services Ministry and the Bank, led by Minister Priya Manickchand, interacting with hundreds of women at the Cheddi Jagan Civic Centre, Hampshire.
            Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Priya Manickchand while addressing the gathering said that Government is keen on looking after the vulnerable sections through financial support and as such, they should grasp the opportunity to access the loan.
            In its continuous drive to improve the social services in the country government is looking to create an environment where women can function and perform at their best and according to the Human Services Minister, with the loans this would facilitate a brighter future for them.

Regional Chairman, Zulfikar Mustapha delivers remarks during the Women of Worth (WOW), micro-credit scheme ceremony at the Cheddi Jagan Civic Centre, Hampshire, Region Six (East Berbice/ Corentyne).

            “This Administration has recognised that single parents are vulnerable and as such we are ready and willing to hold your hands. We want to give you the ability to access income to be able to better your lives. The ability to look after yourself and to be self-dependant we want to give you that and so today we are putting the tools into your hands.”
            She noted that the biggest problem facing persons especially single parents is producing the collateral for banks to be able to access loans.
“We can trust the women of Guyana and so with this loan we are giving your children a life you didn’t have,” she indicated.
While speaking on the administration’s 2006 manifesto plans, Minister Manickchand said that as it relates to the Human Services Ministry she can clearly boast of the many achievements. This, she gives credit to the many children’s bill that have been passed in the National Assembly to ensure that children are safeguarded from all forms of abuse.   

From left: Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Priya Manickchand, Chairperson, Regional Women’s Affairs Committee, Razika Majid and GBTI’s Branch Manager, Naresh Balkaran

            She however, stated that there are two bills pending in Parliament but assured that they will be passed before the end of this year. As it relates to the family court she said that the building has been completed thus far; however, the staff complement and the laws governing the courts are left to be initiated. The laws governing the court is under the jurisdiction of the Judiciary.
            Regional Chairman, Zulfikar Mustapha said that the initiative is testimony to the administration’s commitment to bettering the lives of Guyanese and encouraged the attendeas to applaud the work of the Ministry in this regard.
            “Just over one month ago this project was launched in Georgetown, and when projects are launched like these the negative persons in society always say that the government is only making promises, but today this initiative that was launched by the President Bharrat Jagdeo in June becomes a reality in our Region,” he said.
Over the years, government has been allocating huge sums of resources to the Social Services sector and as such the vulnerable have been receiving assistance. According to Mustapha the initiative is another gesture by the administration to better the lives of its populace.
            “When this initiative was conceptualised it was one of the ideals in the PPP manifesto in 2006 and in every elections there are plans that are initiated of what will be done in its manifesto and many of those points in the manifesto I am pleased to say, we are seeing reality in every sector and must commend the government for bringing this service here.”
            GBTI’s Branch Manager, Naresh Balkaran said that the Bank through its network countrywide has been fostering partnership with corporate businesses, schools, NGOs and social groups to ensure that economic activities in the country continue to thrive and noted that such initiative is no exception.

             
 

 

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Gov’t updates on flood interventions- strict monitoring ongoing

Georgetown, GINA, July 17, 2010

 

Government has been making numerous interventions including dispatching of equipment to boost regional capacity and distribution of food packages to bring relief to residents directly affected by flood which have been caused by heavy rainfall coupled with spring tide in hinterland and riverain communities.
            Today, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds provided an update to the media on the efforts Government has been making to support residents.

Prime Minister Samuel Hinds makes a point during the meeting to update on Government’s interventions to assist flood-affected areas.
Paying keen attention is Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy. Region Ten Chairman Mortimer Mingo is in centre


            Also present were Ministers of Agriculture, Transport and Hydraulics, Local Government and Regional Development, and Health, Robert Persaud, Robeson Benn, and Kellawan Lall and Leslie Ramsammy respectively; and Region Ten Chairman Mortimer Mingo; Civil Defence Commission Head Chabilall Ramsaroop among other stakeholders.
            Prime Minister Hinds highlighted that Government has adequately responded to the situation in terms of relief. He indicated that the necessary Ministries and agencies are on board and Government has been assessing the situation. It was noted that Government will be monitoring the situation to ensure that it does not escalate.
He indicated that the drought which Guyana experienced for several months has ended and now there is persistent heavy rainfall across the country, particularly in the mid section.
            He expressed that this is common around the world as some countries which would have had long dry spells are now experiencing intense rainfall.
             The Prime Minister indicated that the three main rivers, Essequibo, Demerara and Berbice are extremely high which is as a result of heavy rainfall and spring tide and this has lead to the overflowing of their banks. Region Ten has been mostly affected.  
            Minister Persaud indicated that the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority has been actively carrying out works to prevent large scale flood. He alluded to the recent flash floods which affected the coast particularly on the East Bank Demerara.
            He emphasised that Government has dedicated $100M in Region Ten this year primarily in populated areas, particularly Kwakwani and Coomacka, to support the regional administration.
            It was noted that in a national perspective the flood did not affect the economy since residents in the areas are small scale farmers.
            Minister Persaud indicated that the coastland has not been hard hit by the flood. He highlighted that the living environment of the persons affected are not surrounded by water and they easily access food items.

Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, Ministers of Government, Region Ten Chairman Mortimer Mingo, Head of the Civil Defence Commission  and other officials  at the meeting on July 17 to update on Government’s interventions to assist flood affected areas

            Owing to the flood and rainfall there some creek crossings were affected. With quick interventions by Government the creek crossings at 40 Miles and 42 Miles, Mabura were restored within four days.
            “The Ministry has also dispatched an excavator along with other equipment to Kamakabra Creek area on the Ituni – Kwakwani trail to relief and restore the road section which was overtopped due to the swollen stage of that creek caused by recent extreme inland rainfall,” Minister Benn stated.
            Government through the Civil Defence Commission and Food for the Poor has distributed 370 food packages to affected residents in Region Ten.
            Mingo expressed that the situation in the Region could not have been prevented and the district has never experienced this amount of flooding. He indicated that several areas including Great falls, Malali and Coomacka are affected.
            In light of the flood which may pose health threats to residents, Government has a surveillance team monitoring the situation in the Region.
            Minister Ramsammy, highlighted that Government is boosting the capacity of the Regional Administration to ensure that there are no outbreaks of diseases. He stated that there are no reported cases and Government wants that to remain.
            The Ministry of Health has activated its medivac service and the Linden Hospital has been put on alert.
In addition to resources in Region Ten, other Regions have been alerted to render assistance if necessary.
           
           

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New storage facility part of plan to make Guyana leading food producer in Region –Minister Persaud

Georgetown, GINA, July 17, 2010.

Government has maintained its commitment to ensuring the export industry continues to thrive and as such stakeholders in the agricultural sector continue to receive assistance from the administration to boost their efforts to diversify the sector by exploring new and modern interventions.


A section of the gathering at the commissioning of the Parika cold storage facility

           The latest move by the administration to boost and fulfill the demands for non-traditional crops in the export market was evident with the commissioning of a $17M cold storage facility at the packaging facility in Parika, Region 3.
           Robert Persaud Minister of Agriculture said that this significant venture that has taken the sector onto a higher level and forms part of a $171M ‘cold storage project’ agreement between the Governments of Guyana and Venezuela.
           He noted that agreement between the two Governments will also witness the construction of a cold storage facility at the Cheddi International Airport to cater for small and large producers and exports in and around the Timehri, Soesdyke and other areas in Region 10. 

The two cold storage facility at Parika

         In addition he noted that this move to build the cold storage facility at the CJIA will complement Government’s plan to export non-traditional crops by air to small Caribbean countries such as Martinique and Antigua. The new cold storage facility at Parika will cater for exports via the sea.
       Minister Persaud also added that Government is contemplating transforming Parika into an export hub once all the necessary logistics are in place such as the custom and trade department.
           “Many of you may have known that we have embarked on a national diversification programme, where emphasis is being placed on other crops other than traditional rice and sugar, because for too long we have relied on rice and sugar and not withstanding the many challenges in the rice and sugar industry, Government with its massive strategic plans was able to overcome those hurdles and move ahead with progression,” Minister Persaud said.

Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud addresses gathering at commissioning of Parika cold storage facility
 
          Government has recognised the potential for other crops, livestock and aquaculture in the development of the country and as such has been channelling substantial amounts of resources to provide the necessary infrastructure, technical assistance and training to equipment farmers with necessary skills to explore and venture into new opportunities in the agricultural sector.
          “This pursuit by the Government to modernise the agricultural diversification thrust in our country has already begun to produce favourable results,” Minister Persaud said.
         He noted that the export of non-traditional crop continues to grow annually and to date Guyana has recorded an increase of 50 percent of production of agricultural non- traditional produce in the first half of 2010, despite the many challenges that the sector was exposed to during the El Nino phenomenon.
          This he noted was possible only through the resilience, dedication and hard work of farmers, throughout the country.
            “If we look at the export numbers it is even much more impressive; the official agricultural export for the first half of this year is 60 percent of what we would have exported for the entire 2009 and that is only for non traditional crops,” Minister Persaud said.
           When this upward trend continuous to manifest itself in the agricultural sector government becomes even more encouraged to pursue other friendly Governments such as the United States, Brazil , China ,India and  Venezuela to invest more  in the sector.

Watermelons ready to be exported at the packaging facility in Parika

           Chief Executive Officer of Caribbean Container Inc (CCI) Ronald Webster, who was present at the commissioning ceremony while commending the Ministry of Agriculture and the Guyana Marketing Corporation for the venture, underscored the importance of exporting quality produce to meet international standards.
           He noted that Guyana must be proud of what it produces and that every produce that is ready to export must bear the country’s flag.   
           Minister Persaud urged farmers present to take full advantage of the facilities across the country that are being provided by the Government and to continue to cooperate with the Guyana Marketing Corporation in making this venture a success.
          The first packaging facility was commissioned 2001 at Sophia Exhibition complex and another in Parika in October 2008.  
  

 

 

 

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