Oil companies source over $50M in food every month from Region Three – Pres. Ali

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
President Dr Irfaan Ali and ministers interacting with vendors at the Parika Market in Region Three

Local content and the sourcing of goods and produce in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), sees persons in the region’s food supply chain making over $50 million per month, with supply boats purchasing their goods for the oil companies operating in the Stabroek Block.

This was revealed by President Dr Irfaan Ali, while at a GAICO Construction Inc commissioning ceremony for a dredge. According to the President, who himself hails from Region Three, everyone in the supply chain benefits from this local content.

“I was speaking to some of the suppliers for the supply boats, that go out to the rig. And when you check what they buy from Region Three in the markets, in food supplies, water. They spend more than $50 million here every month, in the market.”

“More than $50 million every month, buying produce and supplies. Who benefits? It is the farmers. It is the small retail stores. It is the supermarkets,” the President said.

In referring directly to the US$7.5 million dredge (part of an overall US$25 million investment) being commissioned by GAICO, President Ali noted the significance of the project across sectors.

“So, it is very important we understand the linkages that this development brings. And then, agriculture. We are going to make Guyana a food production hub for this region,” the President explained.

“There’s no second guessing that. Guyana is going to become a food production hub. But we have challenges. We have climate change, rising sea levels, we have unpatterned rainfall. We have to deal with those challenges.”

According to President Ali, these challenges are being addressed with the establishment of three direct outfalls from the backlands to the Atlantic. He also noted that flooding is a perpetual problem in the Pomeroon, Abary, Mahaica and Mahaicony.

The Local Content Act was passed late last year. It mandates that oil and gas companies operating in Guyana, as well their contractors and sub-contractors must procure from Guyanese companies by the end of 2022, 90 per cent of office space rental and accommodation services; 90 per cent janitorial services, laundry and catering services; 95 per cent pest control services; 100 per cent local insurance services; 75 per cent local supply of food; and 90 per cent local accounting services. These are just some of the 40 different services outlined in the first schedule.

The Act also sets out the establishment of a Local Content Secretariat, which allows locals to register their businesses and their individual skill sets. This is so there is a ready-made pool of skills and services to draw from, when opportunities become available in the sector.

There are two portals. One register deals with supplier registration and the other deals with employment registration. Applicants have the option of submitting their applications in either electronic or hardcopy form. Once their applications are submitted, applicants will receive an acknowledgement of receipt and a reference number, after which a review process will start.

The Act goes hand in hand with the Government’s drive to increase agricultural production and the export of Guyana’s goods throughout the region. President Dr Irfaan Ali had declared that his Government would be pursuing an aggressive campaign to dismantle regional barriers to agricultural trade and that in the next four years, with the assistance of more diversified crops, Guyana would aim to reduce Caricom’s food import bill by 25 per cent.

Guyana will meanwhile be hosting the inaugural Agri-Investment Forum and Expo at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) from May 19 to 21 to bring together producers, importers and exporters, investors and other players to promote and improve the region’s productivity and resilience of its agri-food systems. The event will be held under the theme: “Investing in Vision 25 by 2025”.

The two principal objectives of the event are matching bankable agricultural projects with available private and public financing, and making potential investors and other stakeholders aware of new and emerging opportunities in Caricom agriculture, including technological and logistical solutions.

It will focus on specific areas in the food value chain including: primary production (farm and field); agro processing (including post-harvesting and marketing); logistics (distribution, shipping, air cargo), and infrastructural development, including in the areas of finance and technology.