Forty-one farmers actively involved in the Paramakatoi Sun-Dried Tomato Project were pleasantly surprised over the weekend when Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Valerie Garrido-Lowe, and team, visited the village and distributed food hampers.
The indigenous Patamona people of the North Pakaraima region created history when they collaborated to establish the first ever Sun-Dried Tomato facility here in Guyana.
According to Minister Garrido-Lowe, the hampers distributed were but a small token of appreciation to the farmers for their dedication and commitment to the project.
Minister Garrido-Lowe said that despite the many challenges; farmers remained committed to seeing this project to realization.
Before distributing the hampers at a simple yet significant gathering at the Paramakatoi Guest House, Minister Garrido-Lowe in thanking the farmers from Paramakatoi and its satellite community of Mountain Foot/Bashville, noted that “to start something of this magnitude needs a special kind of people and you have proven that you are.
“And this is only the beginning. As the project expands, Paramakatoi will later dry other local produce such as yam, which you have in abundance, process it and package it as delicious and nutritious soup.”
“This is your Government’s vision for you so that you will be able to live the good life you deserve as a human being and a citizen of this country. And as First People, it is only fitting that you should lead the way with such initiatives.
“The hinterland is rich with natural resources, beauty and land so it’s time we utilize some of the richness that will make us become self-sufficient”.
She added that “we as indigenous peoples cannot be dependent on handouts all our lives. Your Government has invested $59M in this project while Canada has supported with $5M. We will continue to stand by you and support your efforts.”
The aim of this project is to transform the community through the establishment of small enterprise development initiatives while creating numerous job opportunities, and farmers were reminded of the long term benefits that will be derived from the project not only in Paramakato, but the entire Potaro-Siparuni region.
At the conclusion of the brief meeting, Minister Garrido-Lowe distributed 41 food hampers and farming tools to the tomato farmers. Other members of the community who played a supporting role also received hampers.
The team then made its way down the mountain to Bamboo Creek where hampers and farming tools were also distributed to 12 farmers there.
Ms. Agatha Paul received a hamper and a farming tool for being the most dedicated farmer.
Ms. Esta Nazio was the most innovative farmer, Mrs. Adela Daniels, was a farmer who produced the most tomatoes, while Mr. Ian Joe received a hamper and a farming tool for the farmer whose farm was the furthest distance from the village.
His commitment to the project was duly recognized by the Minister and her team.
After receiving their hampers, farmers say they were overjoyed by this gesture by Minister Garrido-Lowe and the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs as it has come as a total surprise for which they are most appreciative of, especially at this time of the year.
Residents of Paramakatoi and its surrounding satellite communities have been involved in the sun-dried tomato project since last year.
This Holiday Season these products will be on the shelves of supermarkets under the brand Pakaraima Flavours.
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