Georgetown, Guyana – (September 8, 2017) The Demerara–Mahaica (Region Four) Regional Democratic Council, today, launched its Regional, Agricultural and Commercial (RACE) initiative, at the Ramada Princess Hotel, which is geared towards showcasing and promoting local businesses, particularly those which are involved in agro-processing. It is also expected to connect producers and consumers, while improving and expanding trade opportunities within the region when it officially kicks off on November 24-26, 2017 at the Lusignan Community Centre Ground.
The RACE initiative is the brainchild of President David Granger, who believes that Guyana can play an important role in food security particularly in the Caribbean region. The President has said that while Guyana is rich in resources, farmers and business owners cannot continue to ply their respective trades in the same way they have been for the 20-30 years, as more innovative approaches must be taken to enhance and showcase their products. He has spoken of the need for a comprehensive action plan that will translate the country’s latent economic potential into economic prosperity.
“When we speak about food security, we speak most of all about making food available to everyone in sufficient quantities. We talk about making food available to everyone with a certain quality that you can live an active life. We talk about making food available in affordable quantities, so that everybody, every child in Guyana could have access to food, could have enough food and can have cheap food; and that is my concern. We’re embarking on one of the most ambitious agricultural projects in Guyana; agro-processing. When we speak about agro-processing, we speak about transforming these raw products that you see before us into products, which we can use in our homes. You are transforming products, which come from farming, from fishing, into products which could be preserved because you can do all types of things with these products,” the President had said at the launch of the tomato processing facility at Paramakatoi, Potaro-Siparuni (Region Eight) on August 5.
Minister of Communities, Mr. Ronald Bulkan, who launched the Exhibition, said that RACE will play an integral part in pushing each of Guyana’s regions into becoming economic hubs. He noted that communities need increased economic activity to spur job creation, generate wealth and reduce poverty.
“The launch of this RACE represents another example of the administration’s delivery of decentralization and people’s empowerment. We were elected on a pledge and a promise to reinvigorate local democracy, to put local government front and center of our development and we have spared no efforts in this regard. We have increased budgetary allocation to all our regions, not because we want to share out resources but rather those increased allocations are part of a strategic public policy of decentralization and local empowerment,” Minister Bulkan said.
He also emphasized how vital it is for every region to host similar events, noting that exhibitions have already been held in Anna Regina, Pomeroon-Supenaam (Region Two), Bath Settlement, Mahaica-Berbice (Region Five) and Linden, Upper Demerara-Berbice (Region Ten). On the issue of trade, Minister Bulkan said that RACE is an important foundation for value added production. “We need to move away from the simple buying and selling attitude and think more innovatively and to think of ways we can improve and enhance our products to create market opportunities further afield,” he said
Meanwhile, Regional Chairperson, Ms. Genevieve Allen described RACE as an event geared toward the continued promotion of environmentally friendly economic agricultural fronts on which the country is currently focused. She said that RACE’s three-day activity will showcase the region’s diversity.
“It seeks to attract potential investors, both local and foreign. Our Council believes that it is prudent for us to have such a Commercial Exhibition at this juncture to promote commerce and other business opportunities within Region Four. We believe such an investment will help to develop the region by exposing businesses to additional markets, and introducing our small and new business owners to consumers,” the Regional Chairperson noted.
Ms. Allen said that RACE provides an opportunity for bold and unique ideas to be put on display, adding that even as Guyana seeks to develop a viable market in global trade, it does not wish to become a major contributor to the global carbon footprint. “We thus recognize that our economic and trade activities must be within a frame that maintains as much as possible the health of our environment,” she said.
The launching ceremony gave a sneak peek of some of the exhibitors who will participate in the event. Many of them seemed very excited to be part of the RACE initiative, as they believe it is a step in the right direction for local small businesses.
Marketing Manager of Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC), Mr. Richard Hanif, said, “I think this is a very good initiative and one that is long overdue. We, at GMC, represent over 100 local manufacturing businesses, both large and small and RACE will give them the perfect opportunity to meet and interact with customers in the local market”.
Another exhibitor, Ms. Sharon Redman of Craft Production Center, expressed similar sentiments. She said, “This initiative will greatly benefit my organization since we have a number of persons, who produce craft work but have no market so I think this will be able to promote them and their work.”
The coordinators of the Demerara-Mahaica RACE initiative is urging interested exhibitors to come on board and take full advantage of this opportunity to advertise their business and skills to their local Guyanese market.