Man­u­fac­tur­ers, gov’t team­ing to stage Agro Pro­ces­sors Fes­ti­val

-GuyExpo not on this year

Stabroek News - - FRONT PAGE -

The Guyana Man­u­fac­tur­ing and Ser­vices As­so­ci­a­tion (GMSA) is team­ing with gov­ern­ment in the lat­est high-pro­file ini­tia­tive de­signed to in­vig­o­rate de­mand for lo­cally pro­duced agro-pro­cessed goods, much of which have con­tin­ued to play sec­ond fid­dle to im­ported prod­ucts on lo­cal su­per­mar­ket shelves, var­i­ous pre­vi­ous ini­tia­tives to boost de­mand, not­with­stand­ing. At a meet­ing with se­nior GMSA of­fi­cials on Tues­day, Stabroek Busi­ness was told that the Oc­to­ber 27-29 Agro Pro­ces­sors Ex­hi­bi­tion, Mar­ket and Food Fes­ti­val, ti­tled `Guyanese Flavour Un­capped’ will be yet an­other joint pub­lic/pri­vate sec­tor ef­fort to cre­ate a mar­ket­place com­pris­ing key stake­hold­ers in an ef­fort to sig­nif­i­cantly raise con­sumer aware­ness of the lo­cally pro­duced agro-pro­cessed op­tions avail­able on the mar­ket and en­cour­age sellers to play an en­hanced role in en­sur­ing that th­ese lo­cal op­tions are avail­able in their var­i­ous out­lets. Vice Pres­i­dent of the GMSA, Ramsey Ali, who has been named as Event Co­or­di­na­tor told Stabroek Busi­ness that the event, which is be­ing funded jointly by gov­ern­ment and the pri­vate sec­tor will cost ap­prox­i­mately $22 mil­lion to stage. Guyanese Flavour Un­capped, Ali said, will be staged at a sig­nif­i­cantly spruced up Sophia Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre.

It has been dis­closed, mean­while, that GuyExpo, the ac­cus­tomed fo­rum for show­cas­ing lo­cal foods, art and craft and fash­ion, among other things, will not be staged this year.

Ali, who says he sees the three-day event as a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to ad­dress­ing the chal­lenge of cre­at­ing a more ro­bust mar­ket

for the coun­try’s agro-pro­duce, told Stabroek Busi­ness that the Cham­ber was seek­ing to as­sem­ble pro­duc­ers, hote­liers, busi­ness own­ers, ex­porters from across the coun­try and or­di­nary con­sumers to en­sure that the ideal com­bi­na­tion of stake­hold­ers as­sem­ble at Sophia to op­ti­mize the op­por­tu­nity for the event to be a suc­cess. “We have even in­vited or­di­nary shop­keep­ers so that they can have an idea of what is avail­able,” Ali added. He said that while the event will not be plac­ing par­tic­u­lar em­pha­sis on at­ten­dance by over­seas buy­ers, it was not un­likely that for­eign en­ti­ties in­ter­ested in what Guyana has to of­fer may find them­selves here.

Apart from the tra­di­tional prod­uct dis­play ap­proach, the Fes­ti­val, ac­cord­ing to Ali, will em­ploy mar­ket­ing op­tions that will in­clude the cre­ation of a for­mal set­ting in which buy­ers and sellers can meet to dis­cuss is­sues re­lat­ing to mak­ing busi­ness deals.

Ali, who is also the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of Ster­ling Prod­ucts, one of the coun­try’s lead­ing prod­uct man­u­fac­tur­ing en­ti­ties, dis­closed that the event will also pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for lo­cal ho­tels to press lo­cally made foods in­clud­ing spices and condi­ments into ser­vice in the cre­ation of a range of cui­sine that will al­low for vis­i­tors to the event a tast­ing op­por­tu­nity that will serve to pro­mote the pro­duce of lo­cal agro pro­ces­sors. One of the coun­try’s lead­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing en­ti­ties, Edward B. Be­harry & Sons will be host­ing the Be­harry Kitchen which will fea­ture the com­pany’s agro­pro­cessed foods and food sea­son­ing in the prepa­ra­tion of dishes that will be avail­able at the event.

GMSA Pres­i­dent Shyam Nokta, who, along with Ex­ec­u­tive Board Mem­ber Clem Dun­can rounded out the trio of GMSA of­fi­cials who met with the Stabroek Busi­ness on Tues­day to dis­cuss a range of is­sues re­lat­ing to the man­u­fac­tur­ing fo­cus, told Stabroek Busi­ness that the Gov­ern­ment of Guyana had “come on board in a sig­nif­i­cant way to showcase what we are pro­duc­ing.” Nokta said that the GMSA was in the throes of an ag­gres­sive ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign in an­tic­i­pa­tion of an event to which the or­ga­niz­ers were ex­pect­ing to at­tract “eighty to a hun­dred ex­hibitors.” Ac­cord­ing to Ali, mar­ket­ing the event was ex­pected to cost around $5 mil­lion.

Mean­while, Nokta told Stabroek Busi­ness that the three-day event was be­ing struc­tured in a man­ner that would al­low it to serve “as an op­por­tu­nity to showcase prod­ucts but also as an op­por­tu­nity to do busi­ness. We want to bring to this event the pri­mary and sec­ondary stake­hold­ers, pro­ces­sors, pro­duc­ers, com­pa­nies who are in­volved in mar­ket­ing, trans­porta­tion, fi­nanc­ing, and tech­ni­cal sup­port. We also want the event to fa­cil­i­tate wide-rang­ing dis­cus­sions on tech­ni­cal is­sues like agron­omy, dis­cus­sions on part­ner­ing, joint ven­tures, networking, with the in­ten­tion of pro­vid­ing that space where peo­ple can do busi­ness.”

Nokta told Stabroek Busi­ness that was a fea­ture which the GMSA would wish to stage “ev­ery two or three years.” He said that its strate­gic ob­jec­tive was “to ex­pand the agro pro­cess­ing sec­tor, to build busi­ness, to al­low for networking that en­ables small, medium scale and large busi­nesses to work to­gether where we can meet our own de­mands, max­i­mize the po­ten­tial of meet­ing the do­mes­tic and wider mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

And while the event will in­clude an en­ter­tain­ment in­put Ali told Stabroek Busi­ness that the or­ga­niz­ers will be steer­ing clear of what is some­times the ex­ces­sive, over-the-top loud and of­ten in­ap­pro­pri­ate mu­sic which has some­times served to un­der­mine rather than en­hance other sim­i­lar events.

GMSA Vice Pres­i­dent Ramsey Ali

GMSA Pres­i­dent Shyam Nokta

GMSA Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee mem­ber Clem Dun­can

Oc­to­ber this year will of­fer a dif­fer­ent agro-pro­duce mar­ket­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

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