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By Yannason Duncan Processing local fruits and vegetables is providing a comfortable livelihood for an enterprising group of women in the Charity\ Pomeroon district.The name of the thriving group is The Pomeroon Women’s Agro – Processors Association. The group specialises in both the production and packaging of preserved carambola, pepper sauce, cherry, seasoning sauce, which is also a by product of carambola, spicy mango chutney, green mango achar, malacca wine and virgin coconut oil which is their most recent product.The producersVirgin coconut oil, which is processed from the local coconut, is one of the group’s most popular products.Mrs. Thelma Bess explained that several Guyanese who reside abroad would purchase the oil on a regular basis. The Vice Chairman of the group, Mrs. Bess said that the idea of forming the Women’s group in Charity, emerged after a visit by Regional Chairman, Alli Baksh to the area.She asserted that the intended idea was to benefit people in that community. She noted that in 2001, the women’s group, comprising 15 members, became fully functional, primarily venturing to “enable women, especially from the Pomeroon area to improve their livelihood, through agro- processing and value addition activities.”Mrs. Bess added that the group also aims to achieve financial sustainability by offering quality products to the local market, and has seen an immediate interest in their first product, the “Preserved Carambola.”Always seeking new ideas, Mrs. Bess said that several additional products were subsequently added, the likes of bottled hot pepper sauce, mango achar and cherry wine.Identifying some of the prevailing challenges the group has encountered over the years, Mrs. Bess noted that reaching the international market is one of the premier goals of the group but this has been a setback because of the huge financial funding involved. She added that transportation and working capital pose some challenges. The bright side is that raw material is not a challenge.The women who work every day, except on the weekend, said that there is great demand for their products, particularly in Region One (Barima-Waini) and on the Essequibo Coast.“It’s an unspeakable feeling to see a product that you have produced in both shops and supermarkets, countrywide”,Cheap NFL Jerseys co, Thelma Bess said. Many of the people who know about the products support it, president of the group, Mrs. Rosanna Benn added.The group which received funding from the Government of Guyana and Go- Invest as well as from other donor agencies, occupies a once abandoned co-op building at Charity. This building has been converted to a factory.According to Mrs. Benn, within the next two weeks another product would be introduced. She said plans are forthcoming to embark on the production of jams and jellies. The group is currently seeking help from a VSO who is rendering his service willingly in the accountability (book-keeping) of that group.
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