Against the backdrop of uncertainties associated chiefly with the prospects for the future of locally manufactured food products, the Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC) will stage its Fourth Annual Agro Processors Street Fair at the Stabroek Market Square today.
The shift in the location for the one-day event from the Main Street Avenue to the customarily far busier Stabroek area is seen as an attempt to draw increased public attention to what the local agro-processing sector has to offer at a time when it faces challenges at two levels, first, from the competition provided by the increasing volumes of imported agro processed sauces, spices and condiments finding their way onto local supermarket shelves and secondly on account of the many and varied barriers which local agro processors face in seeking to secure access for their goods to markets abroad.
When Stabroek Business spoke with the Manager of the GMC’s Guyana Shop, Kevin Macklingham, last week he conceded that the shift in the venue is being undertaken with a view to affording the agro processors a somewhat bigger market. What the Stabroek Market square offers is the opportunity to attract early weekend shoppers who may just, for that one day, be prepared to transfer their loyalty from their customer market vendor to the agro-processors’ Fair.
Stabroek Business was unable to secure information from the GMC regarding the number of agro processors invited to participate in today’s whole—day event. The participants, however, will be those agro processors whose products have already found space on the shelves of the Guyana Shop.
As the Stabroek Business reported recently there is evidence of a broader range of food flavourings, sweets, food colourings, seasonings, wines and snacks appearing in the Guyana Shop. The evidence in product presentation suggests that the proprietors of the modest establishments that manufacture these products are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of adding value to their products through investment in packaging and labeling. For all their effort, however, Macklingham says that keeping pace with the high-quality packaging that goes with many imports of similar types of items is a challenge.
The real value in the annual Agro Processors Street Fair reposes in the opportunity it affords small manufacturers to utilize what is customarily a once-a-year, well-attended event as a springboard from which to launch their products.
In the past, Stabroek Business has
conducted post-event interviews with Kingdom Apiaries, which, customarily markets honey, soaps manufactured from bees wax, royal jelly, a honey bee secretion and opolis (bee glue) a resinous substance used to trap birds.
The Fair has also attracted representation from the Guyana School of Agriculture bringing its pumpkin seeds, candied papaw and bottled sauces and the Women’s Agro-Processors Development Network which has attracted an impressive level of public patronage for its packaged cassava bread, eddo powder, bottled sauces and pepper.
Discourse arising out of the event points to a considerable interest in access to locally manufactured agro produce in the diaspora though some agro processors have shared with Stabroek Business the logistical challenges they encounter in reaching the diaspora market. A comprehensive solution to securing greater access to that market is yet to be found.