Kwebanna Village located in the Moruca Sub-district, Barima/Waini, Region One, will be embarking on a $10M Cassava Flour Processing facility, made possible through funding from the Government in the 2018 National Budget.
This initiative will see thirty farmers benefit in the initial phase of the project which focuses primarily on enhancing food security and maximizing the village’s income potential.
A section of the gathering at the launch of the Cassava Flour Project.
This project was launched Sunday last when Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Valerie Garrido-Lowe visited the Region.
More than one hundred residents attended the launch and Minister Garrido-Lowe, amid loud applause during her address, said the project intends to propel the local cassava industry thus adding value to the product (cassava) which will significantly boost the village’s economy.
“Many of us plant cassava but how many of us earn properly from it? We are the first people and people who came after us are supposed to learn from us, but apparently the people who came after us – their food is more popular than ours. So it is time that we balance it off, we have to get our cassava out there and on the market and get paid for it” the Minister said passionately.
Explaining the processing method the Minister said “we will process the cassava flour and mix it with wheat flour; 40% cassava flour and 60% wheat flour and get a mixed product of Cassava Wheat Flour so that when people buy it, they can be able to bake bread, roti, nice bakes; they must be able to make those things and enjoy them. But the best thing about this mixture is that it will produce a healthy meal”.
For the project to be a success, the Minister has engaged the Guyanese consulate in Barbados. Barbados is a prime producer of Cassava Wheat Flour and the Minister noted that “it will be a good thing for us because we will be able to see firsthand the farms, the facility, how they are processing, how they are packaging, what they are making out of it. So I will be happy to take along three of the biggest farmers with me including the CDO (Community Development Officer – Mr. Godfrey Wilson) since he will have to be on the ground to ensure everything goes smoothly”.
The National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), The Ministry of Agriculture, through NAREI, the Ministry of Business and the Ministry of Social Protection are among the key partners that will assist in boosting the local cassava industry.
Representatives from the various entities have indicated their willingness and eagerness to come on board in support of the project.
Initially thirty farmers will produce cassava to be sold to the facility, where it will be processed to meet international standards and packaged. The New Guyana Marketing Cooperation will also be engaged to assist with marketing of the product.
Toshao of the village Paul Pierre, in commending Minister Garrido-Lowe for being resolute as she empowers the indigenous people said “in Kwebanna we have had our fair share of development happening we have had tremendous support from the government so far and today she is here to tell us what is planned for our community and at this point we would like to thank her, the Government and the Ministry for doing what is best in the interest of us here”.
Residents say they are eager to commence work with a female villager noting that “I am so excited about this and we will work hard and plant and get some big, big cassava … and then Minister will bring more things for our community”.
The budgetary allocation will cover the construction of the facility, acquisition of machinery, planting materials and training among others.
Minister Garrido-Lowe, in keeping with Government’s agenda, will be working along with the Indigenous people on several green sustainable projects that will be implemented in the hinterland in 2018. The Cassava Flour Project is one such initiative which will cause significant improvement in the lives of the indigenous people.
Mere hours before the launch of the Cassava Flour Project, Minister Garrido-Lowe launched the Ground Coffee Project, another $10M initiative to be established in Santa Rosa in the Barima-Waini Region.
Kwebanna which is located along the Waini River has a population of approximately six hundred and fifty (650) with its main economic activity being lumbering and traditional fishing and hunting.