–as Agri-Investment Forum and Expo opens to rave reviews
AS the curtains opened here on the Caribbean’s first-ever Agri-Investment Forum and Expo on Thursday at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre (ACCC), there were fruit trees aplenty and blossoming, investment opportunities were ripe, and agro-processors and exhibitors were fairly glowing as they showcased a variety of quality agriculture products.
During the course of the day, the Guyana Chronicle seized the opportunity to speak with several of the exhibitors, and they were only too happy to share their excitement at being able to participate in what is being touted as the biggest agriculture event ever hosted in the Caribbean region.
The look on her face said it all as Sharon Carew-Whyte, of CO-Williams Construction Group of Companies in Barbados, described the event as a platform to foster new business relationships with sister states in the Caribbean.
“I thought it was a great idea, and when we were asked to come on board as one of the delegates from Barbados, we were ecstatic,” Carew-Whyte said.
While ‘CO-Williams’ is primarily a construction company, it is also engaged in agriculture production, and is hoping to soon offer and expand its services to Guyana.
“We are bringing our quarry to Guyana in the form of our agriculture lime,” Carew-Whyte said, adding: “This lime can be used to add to soil, so your crops can be enhanced with nutrients.”
Also high in praise for the landmark event was Dave Narine of Dave’s West Indian Imports, one of the largest exporters of Guyanese food products in the USA.
Singh said he’s always hoped to see such an event promoting Guyana and other Caribbean countries, since he fervently believes that the richest products are to be found in this region, and as such they must be displayed at the highest possible platforms.
A FABULOUS EVENT
“I think this a fabulous event! We need to get more of this,” a visibly excited Singh said.
Equally thrilled to be a part of this event is Sunita Dookie, of Ceedro’s Atlantic Waters, manufactures of Avani’s Foods in Trinidad & Tobago. Noting that it was her first time at such an event, Dookie said it has exposed her to other local companies, some of which she has learnt from, and hopes to work with.
“It’s amazing, because it is a first for the Caribbean, and it’s my first time as well in an Agri-forum, so it exposes you to a whole lot of things,” Dookie said, adding: “You see who your competitors are; you get a lot of knowledge of what you can do, and what aid that you also can get.”
Avani’s Foods offers frozen pre-cooked goodies like, plantain, sweet potato, and cassava fries. The company uses no added sugars, salts or preservatives to their foods.
Hailing all the way from the Cinderella County right here in beautiful Guyana is Govinda Singh, of Roy’s Quality Spices, who noted that investors have already lined up and indicated their interest in his business and what he has to bring to the Caribbean market.
“It’s been great! It’s not the first time I have been at exhibitions, but with this event, I can see a lot of potential customers,” Govinda said, adding: “Apart from that, the event has enabled me to meet with different people from different countries, and different parts of the world.
“They love food, so they want to know what are these spices, and how can they get them.”
Meanwhile, Odean Bradshaw of H&L Agro, one of the leading import suppliers of Jamaica said she is excited to tap into the Guyanese market to work alongside the farmers and other agriculture stakeholders of the country.
“We feel that this is a good opportunity to showcase H&L Agro; it is the leading agriculture import supplier in Jamaica, and, of course, we are moving into the region, and we seek to enter into the Guyana market,” Bradshaw said adding: “We thought it best to come to this forum, because it gave us a wider exposure, and let persons know of our intent, and also know of the product that we have to offer, and what H&L Agro will bring to the farmers of Guyana.”
Lauding the initiative of hosting such an event, Chuku-Liana Adams, of Green Dreams, a growing agriculture business in Guyana, said the forum has created an environment to motivate agriculture businesses in the region.
“This was a great initiative, and I think it is great for us as small business owners, and growing businesses; having us on board along with the others, it’s motivating us to get out there and do even more,” Adams said.
The event is being held as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) takes decisive steps to reduce its US$6B food-importation bill by 25 per cent in the next five years.
Over a three-day period, it will see the coming together of several regional heads, investors, donor agencies, farmers, as well as agro-processors and exhibitors to hunker down and really talk business.