Monday, November 5, 2012

Lindeners see prosperity in agriculture


? but proposed project needs funding

The Linden Chamber of Industry, Commerce and Development said it will soon release a five-year strategic plan and an agriculture pilot project aimed at transforming the town?s economic landscape, but these ambitious? visions lack one important component; a definite source of funding , creating a sense of uncertainty.
Linden Chamber Vice Chairman Noland Walton made this announcement in the presence of the Assistant Secretary-Treasurer Gerald Whittington and Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Clinton Urling, during a recent visit to the city.

From left: Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Clinton Urling, Linden Chamber of Industry Commerce and Development Vice Chairman Noland Walton and the Secretary-Treasurer Gerald Whittington

Speaking with media operatives, Walton disclosed that a member of the Private Sector Commission Benny Sankar in July proposed to prepare a concept document on agriculture production in Region 10, but more so Linden; an initiative that the chamber has endorsed.
According to the vice chairman, Sankar said he has the ability to craft a programme that would result in Lindeners generating sufficient food to sell to neighbouring communities, and regions and even export to neighbouring countries while simultaneously feeding themselves.
?Generally, Lindeners deal with cash crops, but of course, in Guyana, there is a market for fruits and vegetables, our Caribbean neighbours are starting to look to Guyana for certain basic food items. Linden has the land space and with the new technology of green house production, it is not so much about the soil, it?s about the space that you have, you can set up a green house.?
This concept of development will be proposed to the Linden populace when the submission is made at the end of November, reiterating that the market nor land space is an issue, positing that residents, in particular the business community, should buy into the initiative that will roll out a series of benefits, thereby turning the town?s economy around, to one that is vibrant, creating much needed jobs.
?Green house production of vegetables, green house open free production of fruits, food crops such as banana, plantains, pumpkins, we have the production of eggs, and also chicken and coming to the end, last but not least, we are looking at aquaculture, so we are hoping to have the document prepared at the end of the month, and we are hoping to have everyone involved.?
Walton is optimistic that the actual project will be unravelled within four months of the release of the project document, which will also include a period of consultation with residents, who will be required to adjust to the changes for betterment.

Move way from bauxite
He said that it is the hope of the chamber that the Linden populace can shift away from being solely dependent on the bauxite industry. The Linden Economic Advancement Programme (LEAP) was launched to create a mixed economy within the mining town, focusing on agriculture production and the establishments of small businesses, but according to Walton, the economy is yet to be completely diversified.
Despite such optimism and enthusiasm about this agriculture initiative, the Linden chamber vice chairman when questioned about funding for his pilot project, he was unable to give a definite answer, creating a sense of uncertainty.
?Well I have already sent an email to the small business trust which is run by the Ministry of Tourism and Commerce, and I have sought to find out if such a project that we are developing can access financing through financial arrangement that they have? but we don?t have a nail down source, it?s a work in progress.?

The vice chairman also disclosed that the Linden Chamber of Industry Commerce and Development is currently collaborating with five regional leaders to create a five-year strategic plan, to enhance Linden?s economic potential in other areas besides bauxite mining.
?You cannot achieve much if you don?t know where you going or where you came from, so we are working on a five-year plan which will give guidance to the Linden business community and the chamber in our pursuit of development.?
He posited that the Linden business community is in dire? need of guidance and motivation, and the plan will be designed to garner their attention and participation.
?We believe that the time has come for Lindeners and the businesses within Linden to move to the next level, not only see themselves as just subsisting, but see themselves as really getting involved in driving development in Linden.?
When again asked about the financial aspect, Walton was unable to give an unambiguous answer on the completion of the strategic plan. In a bid to offer assistance, the president of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that he has made representation to the Tourism and Trade Minister Irfaan Ali on behalf of the people of Region 10. However, he noted that Linden and the region at large ought to come together and charter a way forward through a comprehensive approach.


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