The strengthening of relations between Berbice farmers and actual and potential regional and international commodity markets is one of the positive outcomes of the Berbice Expo, now in its seventh year, according to Vice President of the Upper Corentyne Chamber of Commerce Leekah Rambrich.
During a post-event interview with Stabroek Business earlier this week Ramrich said this year’s focus on agriculture saw Berbice farmers, particularly those located in the Crabwood Creek area, benefit from continued exposure to external visitors to the event and that this has served to enhance already existing partnerships with buyers and potential investors from Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and other Caricom countries.
This year’s Berbice Expo was held against the backdrop of Guyana’s continued focus of maximizing agricultural production to enhance its domestic food security, respond to global food security imperatives and boost export earnings. It saw participation from far-flung regions of the country including the Rupununi as well as visitors from Suriname and India seeking to establish new business relationships and to consolidate existing ones with local farmers, according to event coordinator Tajpaul Adjodhea.
The national focus on what is believed to be the key role Guyana can play in responding to the challenge of increasing its export earnings from agriculture saw farmers who participated in the event exposed to more opportunities to understand the importance of cultivating crops, including black pepper and ginger, for which there is a growing demand on the regional and international markets, Rambrich told Stabroek Business.
According to Rambrich, this year’s Berbice Expo embraced the dual focus of promoting business enterprises in the Berbice area and helping to encourage entrepreneurs to cultivate better business practices in order to enhance the competitiveness of their produce on the regional and international markets. Rambrich said the event sought to help farmers recognize that while their enterprises were designed along commercial lines and intended to yield a profit, farming was a technical operation which needed to be learnt if it is to yield the best results. Farmers, he said, needed to develop a more effective understanding of how to manage their operations. He said the presence at the event of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Extension Services helped accomplish the objective of demonstrating to farmers methods by which improving operational efficiency can result in greater profitability.
According to Rambrich farmers participating in the Berbice Expo appeared surprised to learn that there are cattle bred in the Caribbean that produce 40 pints of milk per day which is the kind of information that could serve as a guide to investment in the cattle industry.
He said the presence of representatives from the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) enabled discourses on crops which are relatively easy to cultivate, boast a high yield and are in demand on the international market.
During the event NARI made available to the farmers a quantity of these plants, including turmeric and black pepper, free of cost. The rice and sugar industries, he further reported, were also largely represented at the expo. These are areas in which continuous investment is always being encouraged.
This year’s Berbice Expo also witnessed participation by Republic Bank, NAFICO and the regional low-cost airline RedJet.