‘We’re in the big league’
NAMILCO’s Managing Director, Roopnarine Sukhai (left) and Head of GNBS, Andrea Mendonca, hold the signed certificate that gives the milling company permission to use the ‘Made in Guyana’ mark on its products (Adrian Narine photo)
NAMILCO’s Managing Director, Roopnarine Sukhai (left) and Head of GNBS, Andrea Mendonca, hold the signed certificate that gives the milling company permission to use the ‘Made in Guyana’ mark on its products (Adrian Narine photo)

… Business Director says, as NAMILCO gets ‘Made in Guyana’ branding

THE National Milling Company of Guyana Inc. (NAMILCO), on Wednesday, became the fourth manufacturing company in the country to receive the ‘Made in Guyana’ certification mark from the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS).

The local milling giant will carry the mark on two of its flour packages – the self-rising Maid Marian flour and the Thunderbolt wheat flour.

“We’re in the big league. It is no longer business as usual. This mark is therefore a small, but giant move towards standards and sends a strong signal that our country is making progressive steps towards international expectations,” the Director of Business at the Ministry of Tourism, Industry, and Commerce, John Edghill said during the certification ceremony, which was held at Parc Rayne, Rahaman’s Park.

Edghill noted that the “voluntary programme” is available to all local manufacturers that are desirous of receiving the mark.

“We would have set out the targets initially for this programme, and the response has been overwhelming. In fact, … I would have learned that the number of applications has already surpassed our initial target,” he said.

The ‘Made in Guyana’ certified Maid Marian and Thunderbolt flours

He added that the government supports initiatives which foster the competitiveness of local companies and is extremely pleased with the progress made by local businesses.

“As we’re all aware, we have the oil and gas resource and that has placed Guyana in a global spotlight, and international companies are constantly seeking trade environments and investment opportunities. However, this places us on the world stage, not just for prominence, but this esteemed level demands greater expectations of our companies’ processes and standards,” he said.

Meanwhile, GNBS’ Acting Executive Director, Ramrattie Karan, told the gathering that the certification will be added to NAMILCO’s existing ISO 9001: 2015 Quality Management Standard.

“Soon we will see many other products using the ‘Made in Guyana’ mark,” she said before adding that before certification is given, companies have to meet a number of requirements.

The mark provides recognition to locally manufactured products on the local and international markets.

Under the established criteria for the programme, manufacturers must use at least 60 per cent of local raw materials in their production and 70 per cent of their staff must be Guyanese.

“This helps to increase the value-added products produced locally and drive the use of local content…,” Karan said.

From left: Attorney Devindra Kissoon; Director of Business, John Edghill; GNBS Executive Director, Ramrattie Karan and GNBS Certification Department Head, Andrea Mendonca. Also pictured are NAMILCO’s Managing Director, Roopnarine Sukhi (sixth from left) and Quality Manager, Taijawattie Williams (second from right) and well-wishers

While delivering brief remarks, the Quality Manager of NAMILCO, Taigwattie Williams, explained that ever since the local market opened up for imports, flour has been entering Guyana from regional as well as extra-regional countries.

However, this has led to low-quality flour entering local markets, often with misleading labelling.

“Some of these flours are packaged and made available for sale with just a minimum of information on the packaging…less than is required by law; expiration date and ingredients information are often missing, or misplaced [and] the country of origin is also questionable,” she said.

Williams highlighted a case where an address for a flour product was given as Coverden, East Bank Demerara. However, it was later discovered that a “cake shop,” owned by a private individual was located at the address.

“In many cases, the flour is repackaged in thin plastic bags and sold for a few dollars less by the company, but when weighed it is actually less than the 454 grams which is equivalent to a pound,” she added.

She said that even though the metric system became the legal system of measurement in Guyana, food and other items are still being sold by the pound resulting in consumers being exploited.

“Because NAMILCO is the only flour mill in Guyana, consumers often assume the flour is milled and packaged by NAMILCO. They are easily misled into believing the flour is made in Guyana and expect to hold NAMILCO liable when quality or safety issues arise,” Williams said.

However, the quality manager said the risks to food safety that are inherent in the repackaging activity, warrant the attention of the regulatory bodies.

“We [NAMILCO] implore them to vigilantly investigate and address these practices, as we work very hard to maintain the quality and standards which have to be verified by two audits each year. With the ‘Made in Guyana’ certification mark, customers are provided with independent assurance about the safety and nutritional content of the food purchased. In doing so, public health and safety are enhanced,” she said.

Meanwhile, Vice-President of the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA), Ramsay Ali, used the opportunity to call on local companies to join the programme as he pledged his support.


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