Guyana in collaboration with IICA is taking steps to establish agro-tourism “as an incidental component of the standard tourism package” in the Essequibo Tri-lake communities Capoey, Mainstay/ Whyaka and Tapacuma/St Denny.
Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai, on her first trip to Mainstay, Essequibo since her ministerial appointment, attended a two-week intense training programme, in collaboration with the Inter American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) to discuss this issue. The Government Information Agency (GINA) said the workshops aimed at exploring and enhancing the agro-tourism potential in the Tri-lake communities, through collaboration with the tourism, industry and commerce and agriculture ministries.
Sukhai called on the commerce ministry to pay closer attention to the mushrooming agro-tourism ventures in the hinterland particularly at Surama and Nappi in order to realise its potential. She said the initiative supports the agriculture ministry’s ‘Grow more’ campaign and can bring numerous benefits: “It brings with it income generation, capacity building, management skills, governance skills and … a partnership and this is what I wish to underline. It brings a partnership with government, it brings a partnership with donors, support institutions and it brings with it team spirit of the villages.” She said too empowering women in the communities could be a challenge in the face of global demand for food and potential investment in the area.
Even as training is ongoing, several Amerindian communities are accelerating moves to maximise on the opportunities offered at the just concluded Regional Agriculture Investment Forum held in Guyana. Traditionally, the communities are known for cultivating pineapple and cassava. Now they intend to expand their entrepreneurial skills while harnessing the full potential of their environment in a sustainable manner.
The Tri-lake communities have immense potential for organic pineapple and cassava production, craft making, culinary arts and the development of a heritage trail. The latter is seen as an excellent way of preserving the communities’ heritage.
At the opening ceremony held at the Mainstay Resort, IICA Representative to Guyana Ignatius Jean noted that the initiative to support the expansion of income generating activities in the Tri-Lake communities is funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The Foundation is a non-profitable institution aimed at supporting the development of rural communities.
In challenging the representatives from the various communities to develop the agro-tourism programme as a model venture, Jean praised the women, especially those from the Mainstay/Whyaka Women’s Development Group. Headed by Captain Yvonne Pearson, the group was recognised for its “sterling contribution towards the operations of the Mainstay Organic Pineapple Processing facility,” GINA said. Jean said the group’s work should be emulated, pointing out that he has met the captains of the other communities to charter the way forward.
Meanwhile, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the agriculture ministry Brian Greenidge said the agro projects are part of government’s diversification programme. He said production in a sustainable manner along with prudent environmental management principles are very important facets of agro tourism.