The Second Inter – Ministerial Round Table with the Guyana Manufacturing Services and Association (GMSA) was held on Wednesday May 9, 2018 at the Ministry of Finance.
The Round Table, with focus on Agro-processing was chaired by the Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan and included Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin, Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Sydney Allicock, Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder, Minister of Local Government, Ronald Bulkan, Commissioner General of Guyana Revenue Authority, Godfrey Statia, Director of Budget, Ms Sonya Roopnauth and Head of Projects, Tarachand Balgobin of the Ministry of Finance.
The GMSA delegation was led by its President, Shyam Nokta, and including 1st Vice-President, Ramsay Alli, 2nd Vice-President, Ramesh Dookhoo, Chair of the GMSA Agro-processing Sub-sector, Carlos Mendonca, and GMSA Executive, Raymond Ramsaroop.
The GMSA provided an overview of the agro-processing sector in Guyana identifying the national importance of the sector as recognized by several keynote strategic documents – the LCDS and now the GSDS Framework; the economic contribution of the sector, and the potential of agro-processing to meet domestics as well as regional and international food demands.
A comprehensive presentation was made on challenges facing the agro-processing sector and among the key areas identified were the policy framework for agriculture and agro-processing; legislation; access to raw materials; standards; financing especially for small and medium scale operators; reliable, stable and affordable energy; incentives; packaging and labelling; market access and trade barriers.
For each of these areas, the GMSA outlined a menu of interventions for Government’s consideration along with the possible impact it would have, as well as the organisation’s own contributions towards addressing the issues.
According to the GMSA in a statement on the meeting, one of the key initiatives proposed is “the securing of low-cost technologies for primary processing in remote areas and the setting up of a modular agro-processing facility to process crops whose production can increase relatively quickly (such as mangoes, pineapple, plantain, peanuts). A facility of this nature would help create stable guaranteed market for farmers, push increased productivity and lowered cost of production, and could be a step towards servicing export markets.”
Moreover, the meeting agreed that among the immediate solutions would be to have a greater share of public procurement to be sourced from local agro-processors once available and of suitable quality and competitive prices. Closely linked to this would be the implementation of the Small Business Act requirement of 20 per cent small business sourcing by Government.
It was agreed that a Joint Technical Team will be established between the GMSA and the Ministry of Finance to address the issues raised and the Ministerial Committee will meet again in June 2018, to evaluate the progress made.
The Inter-Ministerial Roundtable is an initiative between the GMSA and the Minister of Finance which was started in June 2017 and through which three Roundtables have been identified, with the first one focused on the Forestry and Wood Processing sector.