NAMILCO, Sterling, Tandys, Peppys among heavy hitters for agro-processing expo

Some of the country’s major and modest agro-processors will set out their stalls at the `Uncapped’ event today at the National Exhibition Centre, Sophia, hoping for a fruitful interface with major supermarkets and other outlets that will significantly grow the home market for local agro produce.  The event will run until Sunday.

Up until now much of the focus in the discourse on the marketing of the goods produced by the local agro processing sector has been on finding ways of increasing regional and extra-regional demand. In a final pre-event briefing for the Stabroek Business on Wednesday evening both Guyana Manufacturing & Services Association (GMSA) President Shyam Nokta and Vice President Ramsay Ali were emphasizing that the weekend’s Agro Processors Exhibition Market and Food Festival was specifically focused on seeking to place more local agro-processed goods on the shelves of local outlets.

In an invited comment, Ali, who is serving as  Event Organizer said that what `Uncapped’ was seeking to emphasize is the importance of local businesses in moving the country’s agro-processing sector forward.

“We are encouraging the shop owners of Guyana, all the shop owners to come to this event to see exactly what Guyanese are producing that can be used locally instead of imported stuff. We have some good Guyanese products here but they need help from the Guyanese storekeepers to put those products on their shelves and promote them,” Ali said.

On Wednesday the GMSA Secretariat named the National Milling Company, Sterling Products Ltd, Banks DIH Ltd, Edward B. Beharry and Company and Demerara Distillers Ltd. as being among the ‘heavy hitters’ in the local agro-processing sector that have committed to displaying their produce at Sophia. Among the smaller agro-processors, Tandy’s Manufacturing, Mohammed’s Enterprise (Peppy’s), Jet’s Enterprise, and Pomeroon Delight will also set up display stalls at Sophia this evening. On Wednesday the GMSA told Stabroek Business that Sterling Products and the Institute of Private Enterprise Development (IPED) are, between them, sponsoring at least twenty small agro processors at the `Uncapped’ event.

Ali had told this newspaper earlier that apart from the named agro processors slated to participate in the event, it was also structured to accommodate micro enterprises seeking what in many instances was their first big marketing break. Several small-scale producers of soaps, sauces and food preparations will grace the same promotional stage as their bigger counterparts.

By far the most important aspect of the `Uncapped’ event will be the opportunity it will afford for the possible closing of deals between producers and sellers in a market where there continues to be concerns about what is felt to be the imbalance between imported and local foods, particularly agro-processed foods on the market. On the private sector side the GMSA concedes that redressing the balance will depend largely on the ability of local producers to raise their game as far as both product quality and presentation are concerned.

The GMSA says, meanwhile, that setting aside the key participants in the event `Uncapped’ will also see the presence of various “important support institutions including the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS), the New Guyana Marketing Corporation, the Small Business Bureau, as well as local commercial banks and shipping companies.

While the GMSA says that the `Uncapped’ event places significantly less emphasis on the entertainment dimension afforded by the annual GuyExpo (postponed this year) it has sought, nonetheless, to lend the occasion a creole dimension. The GMSA has included on the `Uncapped’ programme “local cuisine” and “local entertainers” segments with the former featuring “seven varieties of cook-up-rice” being prepared by the popular Georgetown restaurant Hot & Spicy and the popular   boil corn (Gun Oil) being prepared by Kenton Cumberbatch.

On Saturday evening the `Uncapped’ event will be featuring a local concert with a multi-cultural range of music.

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