The Pomeroon Women’s Agro Processors Association (PWAPA) managed to secure first position at the Regional Contest for Rural Innovative Projects in Barbados on June 15.
Recently appointed Chairperson Rosamund Benn and former Chairperson Vilma DeSilva represented PWAPA at the regional competition, which focused on the support of rural youth and women’s initiatives.
The Agriculture Ministry, under its Agriculture Diversification Programme, entered the PWAPA group into the contest and later in November, a concept paper along with an application form was submitted by PWAPA.
In a statement, the Ministry said the local women’s group was selected as one of the finalists from ten countries and presented their project, along with other finalists, at the award workshop and ceremony which took place at UN House in Barbados. They represent four countries: Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago (two finalists were from Trinidad).
The projects were ranked on a series of criteria, including sustainability, entrepreneurship, innovation, etc., and were judged by a panel composed of representatives from government, civil society and international aid agencies.
The contest catering for rural innovative projects was hosted by the Caribbean Regional Unit for Technical Assistance (CARUTA), a joint programme of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Eligible were any of the ten countries covered by CARUTA, which are the OECS, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.
PWAPA based its project on the production of the virgin coconut oil. They are also involved in the production and packaging of pepper sauce, fruit mix, achar, seasoning salt and green seasoning.
DeSilva, speaking with Stabroek News, stated that PWAPA was made aware of the health properties and many benefits after the product was requested from the cosmetic industry in the US. She added that they were given important properties from research and the product was identified to be in demand.
She further stated that the product was introduced to the local market at last year’s GuyExpo, where a great response from the public was received.
DeSilva said there are plans to expand the business and have so far requested additional funding for a solar dryer, which will be used in the production of the virgin coconut oil. She stated that the Ministry of Agriculture have been working with them and they are expecting some funding from them.
PWAPA was established in 2001 with the objective of creating employment for women by promoting and improving their livelihoods through the production of processed products while simultaneously collaborating with other organisations to increase economic development on the Essequibo Coast.
The group is one of many that have been receiving support from the Ministry of Agriculture through its Diversification Programme.