In light of the many economic challenges emanating from the rice industry, residents of Wakenaam are restating the call for the completion of the plantain chip factory. It was explained that dying rice crops coupled with declining prices for paddy have highlighted the need for alternative industries to be available on the island.
Cattle farmer Tareeq Ahmad related that the infrastructure is around “90 per cent completed” but observed that the facility is yet to be furnished with the equipment and staff.
“It’s not operational, there’s still some minor works that have to be done for construction… since this Government has assumed office, they put it on hold but I heard that they’re gonna go ahead with it but there’s no main word on it. [This] would have offered an alternative to farmers in Wakenaam,” Ahmad explained.
Another resident Jeanette Harrylall noted that the project is “a very good initiative.”
“It definitely will help with easing the burden of unemployment as well as an outlet for the people’s produce; it’s going to give them a better competition between here and Parika with the plantains,” opined the resident.
“They had started the foundation already during [the previous] administration but with the change of government, I don’t know if it has been put on hold or scrapped altogether,” expressed Harrylall.
On March 6, Guyana Times referenced the lack of return on investments and available employment in the rice industry. Some farmers said they had no choice other than to abandon the sector while others who remain observed that they were forced to eliminate the employment of several young men as much of the acreage could not be cultivated. It was opined that this state of unemployment led many to turn to alcohol and other social ills.
In January, Region Three (Essequibo Islands/West Demerara) Vice Chairman Sheik Inshan Ayube told this publication that residents wanted the long-awaited plantain chip factory in their area up and running”.
He noted that the former People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) planned to establish the factory to negate any negative impact of the rice industry on the island.
“This would have ensured that the affected rice farmers have another source of income,” Ayube had noted.
“It appears this project is neglected by the present Government or the Minister of Business does not have any idea how to move this project forward,” posited the Region Three Vice Chairman.
“Since the government distanced itself from the rice industry, the residents are calling on them to make the plantain chip factory operable as early as possible, so they can have an alternative to rice cultivation,” the Vice Chairman had expressed.