Cultivating Food Production Excellence

World Food Day - October 16, 2023

A Close Look at Guyana’s Agro-processing Industry

By Yvon Bertrand, International Food Safety and Inspection Expert, TVD Global

The Technical Assistance Partnership (TAP) initiative implemented by Alinea International and funded by Global Affairs Canada with four of Canada’s premier experts in food safety and agro-processing, including Yvon Bertrand are working collaboratively with the Government of Guyana’s Ministry of Agriculture. The work supports the development of the fruit agro-processing sector in Guyana, focusing on providing technical assistance in supply chain management, market research, and product development.  In this blog post, Yvon recounts his journey evaluating the Guyana Marketing Corporation project and assessing Agro-processing facilities in Guyana.

On my most recent assignment, I had the remarkable opportunity to evaluate the project implementation by the Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC) and assess the Agro-processing facilities to ensure that Guyana’s food production aligns with the highest national and international standards.

Before we embarked on this mission, I had the privilege of discussing the agenda with GMC authorities. This crucial step helped us lay the groundwork for a comprehensive evaluation of not only the GMC staff but also the Agro-processing facilities and their dedicated employees. Our primary aim was to support Guyana’s commitment to reduce the Caribbean Import Food Bill by 25% by 2025 by constructing and rehabilitating 14 agro-processing facilities across the country.

Agri-Investment Forum and State-of-the-Art Facility

During our mission, an Agri-Investment Forum event took place on August 18th, 2023. I was invited to participate at the request of the Ministry of Agriculture, Honourable Zulfikar Mustapha. I was warmly acknowledged by the Minister, the Permanent Secretary, the GMC General Manager, and the Departmental Secretary. This forum brought together representatives from the USA Embassy, farmers, and processors. We shared insights from Canada and discussed various activities that could aid Guyana in achieving its objectives. (See photo below).

This visit provided concrete evidence of the successful establishment of preventive controls, embodying the pillars of Good Manufacturing Practices and Good Hygienic Practices, which are necessary in ensuring food safety.

Our Mission Activities

Throughout our mission, we accomplished a range of activities:

  • We provided Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) training to six GMC employees and supplied them with a HACCP handbook. This enabled them to conduct a comprehensive hazard analysis for various processed products, including juice, seasoning, peanut butter, dehydrated fruits, and cassava.
  • We conducted visits to seven agro-processing facilities, monitoring their processing activities and offering recommendations to enhance their food processing techniques.
  • We held meetings with key stakeholders that included the GMC Chairman in Temehri to review our activities and offer recommendations, the GMC General Manager, where we presented our findings and discussed potential next steps among various organizations and representatives from the Canadian High Commission, where we provided an overview of the project’s original objectives and the achieved results across three components: value-added/market analysis, food safety, and product development. (See photo below.)

Finally, we had a debriefing meeting with Minister Mustafa and his staff. This was a moment of pride for me as the Minister expressed his enthusiasm about the TAP-EDM project and how it aligns with the government’s objectives.

Leaving a Lasting Impact

During my three deployments, I witnessed Guyana’s government and the Ministry of Agriculture taking concrete actions to support local farmers and producers in achieving sustainable income. I had the privilege of visiting eight of the 14 agro-processing facilities, and six of them were led by dedicated and entrepreneurial women. These state-of-the-art facilities showcase the wise spending decisions made by local authorities.

It was incredibly rewarding to share my knowledge of food safety and quality and to work alongside the Guyanese government and the agri-food industry to help them achieve their goals. Sharing knowledge and expertise plays a pivotal role in supporting countries in their journey towards increased food production. Together, we’re making a difference that will benefit the public and contribute to food security in the Caribbean.