The agricultural industry in Pomeroon Guyana – from waste to women’s empowerment

Pomeroon Guyana
The members of the Pomeroon Women’s Agro-Processors Association display their produce. Pomeroon, Guyana. Photo UNDP

The Pomeroon region, in Guyana is characterized by large rivers with an abundance of farms and fruit including and especially, coconuts. The Pomeroon Women’s Agro-Processors Association was launched in 2001 as a community response to the spoilage of fruit which grew in abundance in the Pomeroon area, coupled with the high proportion of women who were not involved in paid employment, including, including female heads of household.

Through the work of the Association in fruit processing for sale, the lives of its members and more broadly of farmers and women in the community have been transformed as women have been given the opportunity to manage their business and generate an income as well as to travel and interface with people they might not have met outside of the work of the Association. As a result of the role of the ownership by the community, they indicated that ownership is strong with positive implications for sustainability. 

Highlights

  • CARUTA gave financial supported in the amount of $5,000 to the Pomeroon Women’s Agro-Processors Association in Guyana. This money will help them further there virgin coconut oil market, as well as help with the vital transportation costs.

However, the association still needs assistance. Despite the success of being one of the only producers of Virgin Coconut Oil in Guyana, the Association lacks practical tools for their growth. For instance, the association has no means of transport. This means that although their production level is high, transportation can be a major stunt in the growth. Either the produce cannot be transported, and hence spoiling the produce itself, or, the alternative is to pay high transportation costs, which the Association cannot afford.

“The wives of famers were seeing lots of produce being wasted. Women were at home, often times with large families, and they needed to be occupied in order to sustain themselves. Sometimes the men left the families and the women had to head the household alone”, says Rosamund Benn, a member of the Pomeroons Women’s Agro-Processors Association.

“Now we are able to sustain ourselves, but the transportation costs are very difficult for us. We have to always hire vehicles to take our products [or else they will spoil]. We are looking at it also for the long term – if we have our own vehicle, we can save a lot of money,” noted co-founder of the Association, Ms. Vilma De Silva.

The Innovative Project contest, which was carried out by the CARUTA project, is a collaborative effort of UNDP Barbados and the OECS, IFAD and the OECS Secretariat. It is a regional competition aimed at the identification of projects that promote rural enterprise and innovation at the grassroots level with the potential of replication and expansion at the regional level.

UNDP Barbados and the OECS, supported the Pomeroon Women’s Agro-Processors Association by awarding USD$5,000 towards the growth of their business. The aim of the Pomeroon Women’s Agro-Processors, is to quickly launch their product, especially the virgin coconut oil internationally. However, the rising transportation costs continuously stifles grown. The financial support given to this female centered organization from UNDP and IFAD’s CARUTA Project, will go towards the purchase of transportation, which will in turn, help them reach the desired wider market for further growth.

“We are the persons who have felt the impact of not having that support in a rural community. If we allow it to fail, we will go back into heavy poverty. With the support given, we are also building our own shade house, with the green season, we are planting our own celery”, stated Ms. De Silva.