Farmers Market.GY App Official Launch

Monday July 15, 2019
MOA/NAREI Extension Office, Onverwagt, West Berbice
MINISTER HUGHES’ REMARKS – the Business of Agriculture

Agriculture and food is big business; it is moneymaking business, and in Guyana we have always had the main ingredient – very fertile soil that can grow almost anything, and the right amount of sunshine and rain all year round.

Ask Dr. Homenauth at NAREI – he has had great success with pilot projects for growing ginger, turmeric and onions IN GUYANA, and other foods that we have traditionally imported.

In our country, Agriculture has been our economic mainstay for as long as we can remember, and in some respects we have always taken it for granted. Unfortunately Over the last few decades, our young people have been moving away from the farm lands, holding on to the perception that agriculture is still back breaking work in the fields, e.g. manually watering and fertilizing plants; walking among the beds checking for pests, and pulling weeds. This has changed.

Today’s world of technology is vastly different, so, welcome to the world of E- Agriculture. Where tradition has the opportunity to blend with technology, to improve production technics and increase income, the result has been a true transformation in Guyana, taking us closer to becoming once again the breadbasket of the Caribbean.

My friends, today, access to water and food security are fast becoming global concerns, but Guyana is uniquely blessed with both.

Today we celebrate an important milestone. The Ministry of Public Telecommunications has been working with a local IT company, INNOVATIVE SYSTEMS, on this app(lication). It started when they won our Code Sprint in 2017. This app was their response to a challenge we issued to solve a national problem facing farmers, i.e. to sell all of their produce and reduce spoilage. This gave birth to FarmersMarket.Gy which we are launching today.

Over the last two years, we developed invaluable partnership with InnoSys to refine their app with all the necessary logistics, and us to spread awareness. This Awareness campaign is to let farmers know:
1. That the app exists
2. That their marketing worries are almost over
3. That the app offers tremendous opportunities for more revenue
4. That TECHNOLOGY and E-agriculture really work well together

I am confident that more of our tech-savvy young entrepreneurs will soon be developing robots to water crops, and the skill to utilize drones to fertilize and seed hundreds of acres of lands.

Already students at North Ruimveldt Multilateral and Bygeval Secondary have developed apps that can now be downloaded to our phones. One of the apps measures the moisture content in soil to indicate that a field needs, or does not need watering.

We are a people with a rich agricultural history, and now we have the technical skills at hand. It is now our thrust to ensure these applications get the necessary financial support to move to finalization and implementation.

I’m excited that quite a few of our young partners in the private sector have designed their own IT products, equipment and apps to modernize agriculture. Right here in Berbice, there is one young man in the process of getting the required licenses to use his drones to water your crops, and to apply liquid fertilizers.

This is hi-tech stuff, and Guyana does not have any shortage of people who already have technological skills to create, innovate operate and transform. Today I salute the ancient county of Berbice. You are well positioned to start the agricultural transformation Guyana needs, increasing the use of technology and harnessing the innovative skills we have.

We have the biggest advantage: sun and rain the whole year, and a fertile soil.

I want to say to the farmers in the house that this app presents you with the opportunity to involve your children and grandchildren in Agriculture. It continues to amaze me that they all are naturally inclined with technology….

I promise you, they are the ones who can manage the online marketing of your produce – work the business side of your farm. With the computer as their spade, and the app as water, they can make your farm’s connections with both local and overseas buyers.

On the purchasing or buying side of the app, if it is a factory you have that makes food products, or a supermarket that sells bora, cucumbers, lemons, or peppers, this app will put you in contact with farmers in the hinterland or the Pomeroon – anywhere in Guyana where there is internet connectivity.

Farmer’s Market.GY is just like one big market. The big difference is that you go to market on the computer to sell your 18,000 bags of eddoes and cassava, or the 12,000 pounds of tomatoes you picked in your farm.

In the app you list all the products you have for sale, and you will be able to see that perhaps the Cambridge Suites Hotel in Toronto Canada, or the Marriott in Bermuda, is looking for 80 pounds of fresh tomatoes every Friday. If you do not reap 80 pounds of tomatoes every week, you can find other local Farmers who grow tomatoes. You all can combine your produce and Cambridge Suites will have its 80 pounds of red, juicy Guyana tomatoes every Friday.

Whoever said that the world is a global village was right!

Of course, this app is also for owners of refrigerated cargo ships, or cargo planes, trucks and boats for air, land and sea transport. In fact, right the Ministry has a call-out to owners of any kind of cargo transport to send us their EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST to transport your goods from your farm to whatever destination you order.

Here is the big benefit: This app allows you to supply as many markets as you can supply. It will reduce wastage in the farm as well as the quantity of spoilt produce since finally you will know ahead of time what and how much the market is looking for.

Of course, the whole initiative involves a lot of logistics like:
1) Finding the most secure way to receive your payments
2) Ensuring that your transportation is reliable and will pick up and deliver your goods on time
3) And for quality control: ensuring that your goods remain in excellent condition between farm and market

The opportunities are there and it’s just for us to take advantage of them.

In closing I want to thank Innosys for this splendid app to develop agriculture in Guyana; NAREI and the New GMC for their valuable support. I commend the farmers who are participating in the pilot project.

I look forward to the day when will sit alongside Whatsapp on any phone.

Thank you.

Catherine Hughes