Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Valerie Garrido-Lowe, indigenous leaders and several farmers from the village of Santa Rosa and Islands, Moruca Sub-region Barima/Waini, Region One, launched the much anticipated $10M Ground Coffee Production Project.
The Ground Coffee project is among several green sustainable initiatives to be executed in the hinterland in 2018 and is intended to significantly boost not only the Region’s economy but will also influence national development.
The village will have to select twelve farmers to plant an acre each of coffee for what is intended to be a family oriented project producing ground Robusta Coffee.
During Sunday’s launch at the Santa Rosa Guest House, Minister Garrido-Lowe said for the project to be a success, farmers will have to be committed to this project.
“Coffee planting has a science to it, it has do with the type you grow, how you nurture it, how you pulp it out, when and how to roast it; a lot of emphasis is placed on the growing of it and the roasting….and that is what I would need from the twelve farmers. I would need dedication and devotion to this project”.
The Moruca area was once a coffee producing region and Minister said that Santa Rosa was chosen because there are a number of resource persons who are knowledgeable and as such is an opportune time to resuscitate the industry.
She said it is the Ministry’s and Government’s every intention to work with the indigenous and hinterland people to support sustainable income generating and environmentally friendly projects that will see them earning their own money.
The Minister said that, “with hard work and dedication Guyana could become a Coffee Producing Nation and that’s what we are aiming for. And we cannot do this alone so we will be partnering with several key stakeholders among them the Ministry of Social Protection, both BIT and the Cooperative departments, the Ministry of Business and the Ministry of Agriculture through NAREI and the New GMC.”
A visit to neighbouring Brazil is also on the cards and Minister Garrido-Lowe explained that the visit to one of the largest producers of coffee in the world, will give farmers an opportunity to network and in the process acquire firsthand information on the operations of the industry there.
“At least three or four of you will be identified from among the farmers to go and visit Brazil, to see for yourselves, how ground coffee is produced from beginning to end….because we are not going for nothing less, we are going for a quality product. Santa Rosa coffee must be known for its special blend. The demand will grow and we will have employment for more farmers” the Minister explained.
Farmers who were present at the meeting commended the Ministry for the initiative and say they are very excited about the project and once selected they will put one hundred percent effort into it and is ready to commence work.
One farmer John Torres said himself and two other eager farmers have already recommended a location to the village council for the farm since “we all want to make this project a reality so Minister we are excited and happy for this venture”.
Helen Thomas another farmer said “I have never attended a meeting like this and it sounds very interesting. I love to plant and I always encourage people because it help you a lot and Minister I am so happy to hear that you are taking so many things to the Amerindian people. This should have been done a long, long time ago and I support this, thank you very much”.
Toshao of Santa Rosa and Islands, Sherwin Abrams, was also in high praises for the initiative taken by the Ministry and said selection of farmers will be done based on commitment since “we aren’t talking about trial and fail, we have to be committed and that has been our failure and we have to find a way of overcoming this, we have to be long term. We cannot take a miner and identify him to be a coffee farmer, so I’m very much pleased with the layout of the plan by the Ministry for the coffee project and the success of this project depends on the residents”.
Meanwhile, Minister stressed the need to Brand, noting that the Moruca Brand like the Pakaraima Flavours will have to live up to expectations.
NAREI will be assisting with the setting of seeds and nurturing of the seedlings, while also educating farmers on the correct planting methods, while the Ministry of Business will be assisting with packaging of the product and BIT will be providing the necessary training for persons in the employ of the facility once construction is completed.
Seedlings will be purchased from Brazil which will see six hundred plants planted per acre. Monies will also be invested for the setting of seeds, clearing of fields, preparing planting holes, transportation of plants and such like. The village council is now tasked with submitting to the Ministry in the next two weeks the names of the twelve farmers selected for the project and establishing a Coffee Famers Cooperative Society. They also have to identify suitable farmlands so that testing of soil can commence.
Robusta Coffee plants usually start producing flowers approximately three years after planting and the Ministry has already crafted a plan which will sustain farmers through the period until fields are ready for harvesting.