GMC says non-traditional agri exports up 18% but cargo shipments an impediment

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Items being processed for export at Central Packaging FacilityItems being processed for export at Central Packaging Facility

The Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC) says it has recorded an increase in the quantity of non-traditional agricultural commodities that have been processed at its packaging facilities.

According to the GMC in statement, during the period January to August 2018 over 809 metric tonnes of non-traditional agricultural commodities were prepared for export at the two packaging facilities: Central Packaging Facility in Sophia and Parika Agro-processing Packaging Facility.

This represents an 18 per cent increase in exports when compared to the corresponding period of January to August 2017, the GMC noted.

Moreover, it was outlined that a total of fifty-six (56) shipments were processed, of which forty-six (46) were for exports via sea and ten (10) were for export via air.

Ms Ida Sealey-Adams, GMC’s General Manager explained that while the increase is commendable, there is a need for exporters of non-traditional agricultural commodities to take advantage of the two facilities available to them.

She said that the GMC is also looking at other services that can be targeted at the facilities such as the processing and packaging of fresh produce to target local supermarkets and export markets.

The Central Packaging Facility saw products such as crushed peppers, pepper sauce, steamed and curried katahar, cut green mangoes, steamed bilimbi, mango achar, preserved carambola fruits, coconut oil and cassava cassareep being prepared for bulk shipment.

Additionally, cassarep, honey and Chinese sauce were prepared for export.

According to the GMC, exporters would often use the packaging facilities to prepare their produce for export to countries such as Trinidad and Tobago, the United States of America (USA), Canada, St Maarten, Antigua, St Kitts and Barbados.

It was outlined that while there has been an increase in export from the packaging facilities, exporters are curtailed by difficulties in the acquisition of the quantity and quality of produce required for the export market at a competitive price.

Ms Celestine Butters, Packaging Facilities Manager noted that the unfavorable weather contributed to the shortage of produce especially in the Pomeroon and Berbice areas.

She further stated that “there is a growing export demand for produce such as watermelons, plantains, seedless limes, pumpkins and dried coconuts.”

GMC displaying items in Agricultural crates

Apart from the difficulties with the acquisition of the desired quality and quantity of produce for shipment and the unfavorable weather condition, the issue is compounded by the fact that air shipments, especially to Barbados, have become inadequate since the change of ownership and route of AMERJET.

This, it was explained, has resulted in the company no longer offering its services to Barbados exporters.

Nevertheless, cargo shipments are also offered by Caribbean Airlines and Fly Jamaica; unfortunately, space is usually limited since passenger’s luggage is given first preference.

Notwithstanding the difficulties with regards to transportation, the Guyana Marketing Corporation said it is very thankful to the Air Cargo and Sea Freight Cargo Service providers who have consistently availed their services to the Exporters.

The Corporation continues to engage with other service providers to expand the availability of transportation service for Agricultural commodities. Efforts are continually being made to encourage service providers outside of Guyana to offer their services to local exporters, especially at routes that are not currently being serviced.

Ms Sealey-Adams noted that while there has been a noticeable increase in the utilization of the Packaging Facilities to process agricultural commodities for export, more processing can be done at these facilities. She said that efforts are being made to continue to upgrade the Facilities.

“Plans are in place to undertake semi-processing of agricultural commodities in sections of the facilities to target both local and export markets. This service will soon be made available for use by other stakeholders,” she further stated.

Over the years, GMC, through its Central and Parika Packaging Facility has made it easier for exporters of fruits and vegetables and other non-traditional commodities.

The Central Packaging Facility and Parika Agro-Packaging Facility facilitate the processing of fresh fruits and vegetables to export markets. In fact, there is a bilateral protocol arrangement between the Guyana Marketing Corporation and the respective Ministries of Agriculture in Barbados, Antigua, Trinidad and Tobago and St. Lucia.

The facilities were established to ensure traceability and correct monitoring of fruits and vegetables being exported from Guyana.

It was outlined that these facilities are equipped with equipment used for washing, drying, sanitizing and cooling of commodities. The Corporation, through these facilities also provides refrigerated cold storage, refrigerated trucking service and the rental of agricultural crates for its stakeholders.

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