– as ‘Uncapped’ exhibition and marketplace gets underwayBy Jarryl Bryan“Buy local” was a prevailing theme of the ‘Uncapped’ agro processors expo as it got under way on Sunday. There were several local exhibitors urging locals to support local items while reminding supermarkets of their local obligations.The ‘agro-processors exhibition and marketplace’ held at the National Stadium had the backing of several companies, including Sterling Products, Edward B. Beharry and Sons, Banks DIH and Exxon Mobil. This publication caught up with several agro processors.According to Rihanna, a representative of the National Milling Company of Guyana, (NAMILCO), the onus is on Guyanese to buy local. NAMILCO’s products are stocked across Guyana, and she stressed the importance of consumers paying attention to what they buy.“We have a new product, the Vanilla cake flour. We have free samples. Right now Scenes from the Uncapped exhibitionNAMILCO is coming up with these health products. We are promoting healthiness. We have the whole wheat flour in a packet, and we also have multi-grain and wheat germ.“We have roti mix and polouri mix. The polouri mix is quick and easy for customers to make a fast meal. The roti mix, to make work easier, you just have to add water to get that perfect roti. We want you to support local,” she said.Noting that there is foreign flour on the local market, she urged customers to read labels intently. Pointing to the importance of adhering to expiry dates, she stressed that NAMILCO provides quality. Added to that, she noted, is the inclusion of recipes on the packages.Other productsThe Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC) was also out in full force. This Government entity’s booth featured several sections of produce, ranging from packaged plantain chips to packaged coconut cream and honey — all stocked by the Guyana shop, itself stocked by agro processors.Explaining the process, a representative noted that to be a supplier to the Guyana Shop, products must be agro-processed, and the supplier business must itself be registered in Guyana. In addition, each processor must have a valid certificate of inspection from the Government Analyst—Food and Drugs Department and a valid food handler’s certificate.“We are displaying here the (products) offered by GMC, particularly the Guyana Shop, where we have all the local agro processed products in Guyana. We have most of the agro processors here, but some couldn’t make it. So we’re supporting,” the representative said.“Most of them have their own farm, but some of them would buy from other farmers and process it — slice it, fry it, and package it. And then they bring it to us. These are things we sell every day, including cassava breads, cassareep, and honey.”At another booth, exhibitors hailing from Essequibo had packaged coconut water on sale for $300 a bottle. Roosters Coconut, the company selling the beverage, use coconuts reaped at its very own farm.“The company is owned by Roopan Ramotar,” Farzad Ally, a representative of the company, related. “I do distribution and sales. I recently joined the company, but they’ve been in existence before. We have our own factory, we do our own bottling, our labels. And we do export.”Value of the ExpoDr. Vishnu Doerga, a former President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), was there in his capacity as the face of Action Coach Guyana — a company that not only offers complementary entrepreneurship training, but also professional support services for business owners looking to grow their companies.Doerga noted the importance of events such as Uncapped to give agro-processors a chance to shine. According to the businessman, it provides a platform to introduce consumers to the products and brands of agro-processors. Doerga urges consumers to actively support local producers.“The consumers in our country have a lot to do with this. They have to start getting serious and buy local products. And if the product is not up to standard, you tell the persons their packaging is not where it’s supposed to be, their product quality needs to improve,” Doerga urged.“Go into the supermarket you buy from and ask the supermarket owner, ‘Why you aren’t stocking local products?’ If you keep buying foreign products, the supermarket owners are going to continue stocking foreign products. So consumers have a lot to do in moving Guyana and its agro-processors forward,” he explained.It is understood that the GMSA had collaborated with the Government and private enterprises in order to host the first ‘Uncapped’ last year at the Sophia Exhibition Complex. That three-day exhibition had also featured a food festival that saw some 60 exhibitors and thousands of patrons.This year, there was a noticeable crowd at the National Stadium. It is expected that Uncapped will be held in other regions of the country throughout the year.