PLANS are afoot to make Essequibo a more commercialised district by bridging the gap between the Cinderella County and local and foreign markets.
In order to promote its lush greenery, potential for agriculture, tourism and other attractions, the Essequibo Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ECCI) will soon launch its inaugural Agro and Trade Fair billed for the Anna Regina Centre Ground from April 7 to 8.
“There has never been a forum on the Essequibo Coast that will bridge gaps and bring purchasers to meet farmers,” ECCI President, Mr Deleep Singh said.
“So we want to make the local businesspersons find markets both locally and internationally.”
Essequibo, known for its proliferation of rice fields, is reportedly on the verge of an “economic depression” because of a fall in demand for rice, so they are looking to increase the number of economic activities and promote overlooked areas in order to “attract some big contracts”.
Singh said that while they are looking at a more value-added approach for rice, it must be remembered that Essequibo is also 90 per cent agro-based, so they are not solely dependent on that commodity.
Farmers have adjusted to the economic situation, and started focusing on other lucrative crops such as citrus, coffee, plantains and bananas, and have also begun investing heavily in cattle and poultry- rearing.
Coconut has also been another popular product which is being exploited and used to its full potential.
Although there is an abundance of activities, Singh pointed out that the true potential of the county has to be highlighted to the public, because all the commodities can be available but without the markets they would be pointless.
For instance, the cereal factory has not yet kicked off because of lack of markets, but with the advent of the ‘Expo’, the ECCI is very optimistic that the factory will be up and running soon.
“I envisage that within another three to four years, the region will get better,” Singh said.
He sees the exposition as being “a stepping stone” for progress in Essequibo, as with a theme like “Essequibo means business”, they are hoping to make the event an annual one that will grow over time.
Their aim, he said, is to work on developing the positive aspects of the county, given that the ‘Expo’ will not only promote the commercial operations in Essequibo, but also create employment and be used as a catalyst to push its economy to another level.
By working collaboratively with the Ministry of Business and the Ministry of Agriculture, they have started to market the fair and get local, regional and even international businesses on board.
Meanwhile, other interested persons are being advised that the ECCI will provide 1-10 10” x 10” tents with one table and two chairs for a contribution of $15,000 for the two nights, which will enable persons to display, promote and market their products to the anticipated thousands of persons who are expected to visit the expo.