As part of Government’s vision to showcase local businesses and particularly those involved in agro-processing, a one-day exhibition was held on Saturday evening at the Albion Sports Complex titled “Regional Agriculture and Commercial Exhibition”.Locally bottled valued added farm produceThe event, which was organised by the Region Six Regional Democratic Council (RDC), was held under the theme, ‘Maximising the potential productivity of out immense diversity in East Berbice Corentyne’.Speaking at the exhibition, Regional Executive Officer Kim Williams-Stephens explained that one the main objectives of the initiative was to bring awareness of economic activity and development in communities in the region.“Many of us live in communities and we are not even aware of some of the economic activates that are there and so today would give us that opportunity so that we can see the prudential that we have in our villages and as a whole in East Berbice Corentyne,” the REO said during her official welcoming to the Exhibition.Locally grown onions and other farm produceShe also reiterated that the exhibition also helps to showcase local produce. “In showcasing at the same time it will attract business and also local and foreign investors. This will help not only in the development of the community but the entire region.”Both small and large-scale entities were on display, stretching from Orealla located 50 miles up the Corentyne River to Mara situated 25 miles up the East Bank of Berbice.Agencies such as the Agriculture Ministry highlighted its various arms such as the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), Guyana Livestock and Development Authority (GLDA), the Fisheries Department and the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI).The Business Ministry was also represented by the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS). Addressing those in attendance, Regional Chairman David Armogan explained that it was the first such exhibition to be organised at a regional level but promised for it to be an annual affair.The Chairman stressed the need for local farmers to take advantage of local markets and urged them to pay more attention to nontraditional crops.The Caribbean Community (Caricom) imports almost US$14 billion annually. Guyana, he said, is strategically positioned to take a substantial part of that money in food which is imported into the Caribbean.“Guyana is blessed with an abundance of land and fresh water and Berbice more than any other part of Guyana is blessed with great abundance of land; you know we have the Canje Creek as our fresh water source.”Sadly, he noted in the agriculture sector, the focus has been on primary production and the prices on the world market make the local marker vulnerable. Speaking specifically of rice, he said there is need for farmers to become more competitive.“One of the problems in this region is that we produce at a very high cost and despite the availability of markets in the world, we have not been able to access the most high-priced markets.”As such, he noted that one of the reasons for this, is due to the cost of production and the other is because of the lack of standard.“To be able to supply international markets these days, you have to subscribe to certain standards of which we in this region and Guyana are yet to meet.”Armogan also urged farmers to get into commercial agriculture and stop focusing on subsistence agriculture. “What we have here are farmers with small plots of land utilising the labour of their entire family circle to plant half an acre to be able to sustain their family; that is subsistence agriculture.”He said Guyana will not be able to develop its agricultural capacity if it continues along that line. Noting that most of the land in the region is now under rice cultivation, Armogan said there is now need for farmers to move into other areas of production.The Chairman commended the farmers on the quality of their produce which they had on display and also commended those in agro-processing, stating the quality of packaging is as good as many of the items imported from other Caribbean countries.