Georgetown, Guyana — (April 23, 2018) Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, on Saturday, declared open the first Regional Agricultural and Commercial Exhibition (RACE) for Essequibo Islands-West Demerara (Region Three) and said that the production, marketing and purchase of Guyanese products will be the catalyst for growth in the manufacturing sector and the expansion of the economy. The State Minister made this declaration at the RACE opening ceremony, held at the Leonora Synthetic Track.
“This is not just a buy and sell Region… We have to recognise that the benefit of oil will allow us the opportunity to [increase manufacturing] … We have to start to move [away] from being raw producers to [becoming] value-added [producers] right here in the Region. When we go into the supermarkets in Georgetown, in other parts of this country… we must look for that brand that says, ‘Made in Guyana’… Recognise that the ‘Made in Guyana’ brand is the brand of the future. We are the future of the Caribbean. In fact, I believe [that] we are the future of the world and the world recognises it,” he said.
Minister Harmon also explained the ways in which RACE, which is the brainchild of President David Granger, helps to strengthens local economies. “[President Granger] is convinced that exhibitions of this nature create a conduit through which the farmers, manufacturers, and entrepreneurs are exposed on a continuous basis to an environment that will boost increased production and productivity, stimulate innovation and value added [production], and create employment at the same time… These exhibitions also aid in the expansion of our manufacturing sector, assist in our Government’s effort to reduce poverty… decrease our food import bill, and ultimately build strong regional economies…,” he said.
In an effort to stimulate the growth of businesses in Region Three, Minister Harmon made known his willingness to bridge the gap between business owners and Government officials. “It is heartening to see that many of our farmers and entrepreneurs are moving away from the age old practice of planting and selling… to agro-processing and value-added production… These activities… are in keeping with the Government’s Agricultural Diversification Programme… I undertake… that starting from next week I will be personally visiting their establishments to see in what way the Government can continue to help them to grow and to become major producers of these items,” he said.
Invited to deliver remarks, Minister of Business, Mr. Dominic Gaskin encouraged Region Three business owners to observe sustainable business practices, for both the betterment of commerce and the betterment of Guyana. “Guyana’s future has to be set on a sustainable path; a path that is predictable and certain, and is well planned. Guyana’s Green State Development Strategy is currently being drafted and will provide the long term direction for this country’s development… It intends to ensure that not only our existing population benefits from our wealth, but the next generation, and the one after, and on and on… The ‘green’ represents our natural environment, which we have to protect and preserve… So, when we speak about doing business, we’re speaking about sustainable business practices… We have to lay a foundation of economic development that will carry this country forward for the next few centuries,” he said.
Regional Executive Officer, Mr. Denis Jaikaran said that through cooperation, Guyanese will be the first to benefit from all that Guyana has to offer. “We cannot, in Guyana, hope to build heaven on Earth, but we can make sure that we get the dominant share of what Guyana has to offer us and of what we have to offer Guyana… We can do this through the instrument of the cooperative,” he said.
Vendor and Representative of Women’s Agro-Processors Development Network, Ms. Jennifer Spencer said that RACE is especially beneficial to female entrepreneurs. “It is important that women be represented… It is important for other women, who think that… they’re not a great contributor to society. This is just an exhibition to let other women… who think [that] they do not have the qualities to push the agro-processing [sector] to the next level [know that]… women are able to produce. Women are able to market… We’re here to represent women because women are strong,” she said.
The event was also attended by Minister of Social Protection, Ms. Amna Ally, Minister within the Ministry of Natural Resources, Ms. Simona Broomes, Minister within the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Jaipaul Sharma, and members of the Diplomatic Corps. The ceremony featured cultural performances of song and dance themed after peace and equality for the future of Guyana.