Our decision to lend an even higher level of editorial attention than we customarily do to micro and small businesses in the agriculture and agro-processing sectors has to do with the predicament that many businesses of these types find themselves in on account of the strictures that have arisen out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the more challenging assignments that will face the country once we begin in earnest to assess and seek to limit the extent of the damage that the coronavirus has inflicted on the business sector will have to do with creating some sort of blueprint for putting those various micro- and small businesses that have folded or faltered badly under the weight of the pandemic, back together again.
It is altogether unnecessary for us to allow much more time to elapse before beginning to look ‘down the road’ in the direction of the likely post-COVID-19 state of the small and micro business sector in the Guyana economy.
The probe that the Stabroek Business has been conducting these past several weeks in order to determine how small and micro-businesses have been faring in the restrictive environment of COVID-19 has been, in more ways than one, revealing.
We are entering the second full weekend since a significant resumption of trading in the city following the advent of the COVID-19-driven virtually complete shutdown of business in the capital.
These past few weeks the Stabroek Business has been engaging small business owners in order to determine the extent of the impact that COVID-19 has had on their enterprises.
A recent assessment by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the global food security situation – some aspects of which are reported in this issue of the Stabroek Business – strongly suggests that at least up until now and in the wake of the advent of COVID-19, global supplies are holding their own even though, worryingly, longer-term availability threats still revolve around high prices as well as challenges associated with getting supplies to those regions where life-threatening shortages exist.
There can be no mistaking the reality that the Trump administration in the United States is ‘going for the jugular’ against the administration of President Nicholas Maduro in Venezuela.
On May 19 last, the Ministry of Agriculture, through its Rural Affairs Secretariat, announced its COVID-19 Kitchen Garden Initiative.
From what we know of the nature of the gold mining industry and those parts of the country where gold is mined, the reports of COVID-19 disruptions to mining operations come as no surprise.
If external assessments of Guyana hardly, if ever, fail to make reference to the country’s poverty-related deficiencies, arguably the most powerful boost from which our international image commonly benefits is our ability to feed ourselves and to provide for some of the food needs of other countries, notably our fellow Caribbean Community member countries.
It would, one expects, not have been lost on the leaders of this nation and on the nation as a whole that the absence of an officially declared outcome to the March 2 general elections up to this time and the onset of the coronavirus are the two priority concerns and that the well-being of the country in all of its various respects is dependent on the satisfactory handling and the outcomes of both issues.
Notwithstanding the fact that small and micro enterprises (SMEs) play an important role in the economic life of most countries, particularly in the instances of developing countries like Guyana, the history of the Business Support Organisations (BSO) in Guyana which includes the Private Sector Commission (PSC), has not, as a matter of policy, reflected in their pursuits, a commitment to providing sustained support for what we in Guyana deem to be small and micro enterprises.
There was something chillingly blunt about what appeared to be as much an admonition as a warning from the resident representative of WHO/PAHO, Dr William Adu-Krow, a few days ago, about what he appears to believe has been a dangerously delinquent public response to the strongly recommended ‘social distancing’ urging in the face of the current rampaging coronavirus.
It would appear, given the fact that there had already been reports of cases of the Coronavirus elsewhere in the Caribbean, that Guyanese, as we are inclined to do in these situations, had pre-empted the arrival of the malady here.
Evidence of the continual strengthening of links between the agricultural and agro-processing sectors is evidenced in the fact that, increasingly and as their financial fortunes become more favourable, agro-processors are beginning to examine the prospects of investing in modest agricultural plots, sufficient to cultivate crops that are tied to their agro-processing pursuits and perhaps to utilise whatever remains for their own purposes.
A week ago today the Small Business Bureau (SBB) held its first ever Awards Presentation ceremony to recognize those small businesses which, with its help have been able to grow their enterprises to a level that had won them pleasing levels of recognition and patronage.
This week’s disclosure that, in the period ahead, Guyana will be home to a US$75 million Marriott-branded hotel is probably not altogether surprising given what we are continually being told is likely to be the considerable levels of foreign investment that will come on the back of the emergence of our oil and gas industry.
By yesterday morning and arising out of the latest in an unending series of management/worker confrontations between the majority-owned Russian bauxite behemoth and its Guyanese workers, there had reportedly arisen a standoff between residents of the Aroaima community and armed police, the issue that spawned this turn of events being the earlier blocking and unblocking of the Berbice River in the area of Kwakwani.
In recent weeks, the Stabroek Business has published several stories which, in one way or another, focus on what we believe to have been the accomplishments of the agro-processing sector in 2019.