More than four hundred residents of Katoonarib in Deep South Rupununi, Region 9 will benefit from the recently commissioned village shop that falls under the Amerindian Development Funded ADF’s Community Development Plan CDP (GRIF) project.
The facility cost some five million dollars.
On commissioning the facility Vice President and Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Sydney Allicock challenged residents to capitalize on these initiatives which will ensure economic and other developments are realized.
“It is indeed a great moment, a moment where history is being created here in this community and it means that under good leadership good things happen and that is what I have seen when we came in with the youths with the energy you we see with you the people here. I know we have a bright future ahead for this community”, Minister assured.
Minister Allicock said the Government is ready and willing to provide guidance in the direction the village sees fit and one which will ensure development is achieved so that the “Good Life” promised can be realized sooner rather than later.
Villagers were commended for their support since one hundred percent of the construction of the facility was executed by residents.
The Minister said “this is how a community should be, we should work together, move forward and make things happen bringing comfort to your community. A place of supply was a very thoughtful one because you can have a circulation center that will be able to bring stuff that you cannot make and that you can sell stuff that you can make, we don’t only want to see thongs coming in here but also going out”.
Katoonarib is known as the largest producers of peanuts in the South Rupununi and Minister Allicock challenged residents to ensure the Villages Shop is the spring board for bigger things to come.
Accountability and transparency must be taken seriously and the village council and villagers were reminded that “while you have the Community Management Team remember this is the village property so the CMT is not above the village council, it is under the village council but with that management capacity and responsibility. You must be able to report on a timely basis and the Toshao must be allowed to check the books or have somebody with in the community doing the checks and helping you to balance as the business progresses”.
Security is another key component and according to the Minister “every villager must be a security officer meaning you must be able to check, it is yours you must allow it to grow so you don’t want anybody to come and rob you of it”.
Several villagers following the commissioning said they are happy that the village has its own shop and will curtaining support its operations one hundred percent.
“This is good it’s more close to me now”, Elfreda Cyril who had to walk seven miles to the closest shop in the village noted.
Olive Francis said “I will support them here is where I buy everything from”. Another resident Mark Jacobs noted that “yes, yes I am happy with this shop and I will support it”.
Toshao of the Village Marcus Alexander said since the business opened its doors it has not only received support from villagers but a number of businesses in Lethem.
“The progress made is very rapid, we have been talking to the wholesalers and they have agreed to give us goods at a reasonable price so we can make a profit so how it looks in the next year we will be looking to put an extension to this building because we have been receiving the support from them and from the community” he said.
Toshao Alexander says the village has already employed a permanent and two support staff to undertake the day to day operations of the business.
Katoonarib has a population of approximately four hundred residents and their main economic activities are cash crop farming, cattle rearing, fishing, hunting while some of the youth are gainfully employed in the extractive industry.
Meanwhile, since the introduction of the annual Presidential Grants in 2007, the village has received more than ten million dollars towards economic advancement, while also receiving additional funding for support to other projects.