Agriculture has been a way of life for many Guyanese for decades. Some have chosen to stay in agriculture as they supply markets as well as other businesses, while others have been able to use their farms as a boost to enter agribusiness.
The challenges have been many and for Govinda Sami, who has been farming since the age of 18, stricter measures need to be put in place so that farmers can be paid on time for their crops.
Sami was one of many farmers who exhibited and sold their products at the recent Guyana Agricultural Investment Forum and Expo.
He told Loop Caribbean he’s tried exporting fresh produce a few times, but while some exporters pay half the cost of the produce, final payments are hard to collect, “sometimes they give you a better price. than the markets but that doesn’t make sense, it’s (money) hard to get.
Sami grows ground groceries and pineapples but buys watermelons and other fruits from farmers to supply hospitals. He said he was comfortable supplying the local market for the time being until a better arrangement could be made so farmers were assured of an upfront payment.
The DaSilvas are also comfortable supplying only the Guyanese market with their fruit juices. Nicky’s Fruit Juices owner Damian DaSilva explained that he had tried exporting fruit pulps before, but “there were a lot of challenges with shipping and all that,” he said.
Nicky’s Fruit Juices is known for its fresh fruit juices which can be purchased in large and small quantities. The juices are made from fruit sourced directly from DaSilva’s farm, which has been described as an added plus to the quality of the juices.
“We found ourselves growing because of the quality of the juices, a lot of people come for that consistent quality,” said Himalon DaSilva, co-owner of the company.
For Mahaica Organics, the export market is a dream. The owner, Quacy Benjamin, said he was looking forward to getting his medicinal and other herbs to Guyanese in the diaspora. Mahaica Organics is only seven months old but Benjamin, an engineer by training, has big ideas for his business.
He started by making his own fertilizer which he now sells. What he said, has seen major changes in his organic crops. Benjamin also packs herbs picked from the “wild”.
These include the popular ‘Krila bitters’, ‘Sweet Broom’ and ‘Lemon Grass’. The young man said he packaged them to target both local and overseas markets.
Benjamin has many plans for his business, but the lack of financing options hinders those plans, “if you come from a background where you don’t have the capital but you have the idea, a lot of time, d ‘Getting funding for your business is a challenge,’ the man said.
He hopes that even at the end of this historic forum, more will be done to provide access to finance, especially for farmers.