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The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Eastern and Southern Caribbean Mission and the Guyana Economic Development Trust (GEDT), a U.S. and Guyana-based initiative that supports innovation in science, technology and agriculture have launched the Economic Development Incubator and Accelerator (EDIA) for Guyanese agro-processors.
Processing agricultural output (agro-processing for short) is an increasingly important source of employment. It can also contribute to wealth building for small-scale operators and marginalised groups in Guyana, a release by the US embassy said. According to the release in 2019, Guyana’s agriculture sector contributed 18% to GDP. However, according to international data, production and export of processed foods such as fruit preserves, sauces and seasonings, ground spices, snack foods, cocoa processing, and herbal teas were negligible relative to the agriculture sector’s overall contribution to GDP.
“We see the EDIA as catalytic, an innovative private sector project that will support development in the region, while ushering in economic prosperity. Small and growing businesses (SGBs), while they are succeeding, need more capital and technical assistance. This is important as SGBs are the future of economic development, and particularly in this region where climate resilience is a significant issue,” said Regional Representative, USAID Eastern and Southern Caribbean, Clinton White.
“We’re beyond excited to work with USAID to support Guyanese agro-processors. Applications for the accelerator will open shortly, and virtual training begins in September. The EDIA will provide up to 30 agro-processors in Guyana with training and hands-on technical assistance, in collaboration with our international partners. They’ll also vie for non-reimbursable grants, awarded to five of the most promising companies, to help them grow. We’re looking for the best products, with the greatest chance of driving export growth,” stated Oslene Carrington, CEO of the Guyana Economic Development Trust. “To get notified when applications open, we invite agro-processors to join our mailing list at www.theguyanatrust.org,” she continued.
The time has assuredly come for Guyana’s agro-processors. As Guyanese have known for decades, agriculture, particularly products high on the value chain, have the potential to transform the country.