Ithaca Co-op Society on a mission to revive village economy

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…launches Market Day

By Svetlana Marshall 

Treasurer of the Ithaca Agriculture Land Development Co-op Society (IALDCS), Claudette Johnson

On a mission to revive the village economy, the Ithaca Agriculture Land Development Co-op Society (IALDCS) on Independence Day successfully launched a Market Day.

The Market Day, which drew Guyanese from all parts of Guyana including representatives from the Government and Opposition, saw more than 24 vendors, the majority being farmers, offering fruits, vegetables, ground provision, poultry and dairy products at reasonable prices.

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Sixty-one-year-old Claudette Johnson, who has been farming since her early years as a teenager, said the Market Day was a resounding success. Johnson, who is the treasurer of the Ithaca Agriculture Land Development Co-op Society, told Village Voice Newspaper that by 8 o’clock on Wednesday all of her ground provision, greens and citrus fruits were sold out.

“It was great because I tap in a lot, I tap in a lot,” she said while noting that it provided residents of Ithaca the opportunity to shop at home instead of having to travel to Rosignol, West Bank Berbice.

Meshella Benjamin, who has been a member of the Co-op since its establishment in 2018, said the Market Day was definitely a one stop shop, and residents were more than happy to cash in on the reasonable prices.

“It was nice. We came out as early as 5 o’clock, and by 8 o’clock we were almost sold out. A lot of people came out despite the weather,” Benjamin said.

She added: “We had greens, we had fruits, plantain, chicken, beef, fish, pork, we even had lemon grass, dry coconut, plantain chip, chicken foot, eddo leave, we had a whole lot of stuff.”

Benjamin said she is optimistic that in the future, the Market Day will expand much to the benefits of both residents and farmers.

“We are going to achieve so much as long as we come together,” she posited.

Thirty-four-year-old Zoisa Gilgeous, a food vendor for approximately nine years, said she was more than happy to introduce residents to her pork souse while offering grilled fish, beef broth and other Guyanese delicacies.

Chairman of the Ithaca Agriculture Land Development Co-op Society, Desmond Weekes said the Market Day was birthed out of the need to provide greater market access to farmers.

“This day was birthed two meetings ago; members believe that we are in production phase now, and we should at least get a market, whereby as a village we can actually hold a market, sell our produce and improve the village economy,” Weekes told this newspaper.

He said although the village is made up largely of farmers, other residents were travelling to Rosignol, a neighbouring community, to purchase their greens, vegetables and meat.

“What we find happening, we have public servants who go to the market at Rosignol, so you are actually shedding wealth to Rosignol other than the wealth remaining in the village,” Weekes explained.

He said that the lack of market was resulting in many farmers losing thousands of dollars in crops. “Farmers had crops but couldn’t get it sell, and if they were to sell it outside of the village, it would

have been a low price, so we thought that if we can get a market here, farmers would get more value for their labour. So that is why we went into this direction,” Weekes further explained.

The co-op society, intends to make the Market Day a weekly event in the Village of Ithaca and will soon meet to finalize whether it will be held every Friday or Sunday.

Meshella Benjamin displaying her pepper sauce during Ithaca Market Day on Independence Day

He said notwithstanding some challenges, the co-op has been growing in membership and production.

“We have arrived at a place where we had zero production to a place where we have more than surplus to sell to other villages. A lot of people are now engaged in the backdam, particularly the youths. When we started this project initially, people were probably hesitant to go because they were talking about distance and so on, but as it is now, we are finding it hard to find a piece of land to give it to anybody. Most of the youths are now involved, they are eager to go even when it rains, so that is a big plus,” Weekes explained.

He said, however, the weather poses a problem. He explained that during the rainy season, the road becomes difficult to traverse, and as such, there is need for an all-weather road to allow for easier access to the farm.

“Right now as we speak, farmers have a lot of produce in the backdam but they are finding it difficult to bring them out. So I think the biggest challenge we have is the road, we need an all-weather road,” Weekes said.

He said too that the co-op society was earmarked to receive a boat and engine from the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) loan acquired under the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For

Change (APNU+AFC) Government, however, it was never delivered. Weekes posited that the provision of the boat and engine would serve the farmers well, and provide them with an alternative mode of transportation to transport their crops.



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