Multimillion-dollar milk plant for Onverwagt
–investor targets local milk import bill of US$35M
–says will eventually reverse Guyana’s role in the Caribbean dairy market, making it the supplier
, Source - Guyana Chronicle - https://guyanachronicle.com/20...plant-for-onverwagt/
Managing Director of the Amaya Milk Company, Omkaar Sharma, and CEO of Go-Invest, Dr. Peter Ramsaroop, hold what is expected to be a revolutionary product and huge boost to the local dairy industry (Adrian Narine photo)
CHANGING the game in the lucrative Caribbean dairy market is the ultimate aim of the Canada-based Amaya Milk Company, but, for now, the company will be making a revolutionary investment in the local market with the establishment of a multimillion-dollar milk processing plant at Onverwagt, in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice).
In a matter of months, Guyanese, instead of relying solely on foreign-made milk, would be able to crack open the seal of a freshly produced bottle of Mahaica Dairy Milk – the premier brand of the Amaya Milk Company. The path was cleared for the company to establish its base locally, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) among the Amaya Milk Company, the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest) and the Ministry of Agriculture.
According to information shared with the Sunday Chronicle, the MoU, which was signed on March 31, 2021, paves the way for the establishment of a milk plant to process, bottle and sell high quality pasteurised cow’s milk in the Guyana market. The company has wasted no time in further expressing its seriousness, as its Managing Director, Omkaar Sharma, has said that some CAN$450,000 (G$85 million) was expended already on equipment to outfit the milk pasteurisation facility, which will be constructed soon.
“We have so far invested CAN$450,000 on equipment which is packed on a boat and on its way to Guyana,” Sharma told the Sunday Chronicle in an invited comment.
The equipment, he said, is expected here by April 15, while more should arrive in Guyana by mid-May. Sharma explained that this project will be rolled out in two phases, with the first phase focusing specifically on the production of milk. For this phase, the company has budgeted CAN$500,000.
During the initial stage of the project, the company will be producing whole milk and two per cent milk, after which they will be making flavoured milk, specifically strawberry and chocolate, among other unique flavours.
Amaya Milk Company’s Mahaica Dairy Milk will soon hit the local market (Adrian Narine photo)
“At Amaya Milk Company, we will be producing fresh pasteurised milk in a state-of-the-art milk plant utilising cutting edge technology, along with stringent quality standards, so as to produce milk of an unmatched quality,” Sharma said.
Once the market is responsive, the company, in about two years, will move ahead with phase two of the project, for which CAN$1 million has been budgeted.
“We are not expecting that [phase two] until a year or two… the challenge we have now is we do not have enough milk to support a large facility, but as we get up on the supply side to feed the plant, it will be expanded,” Sharma reasoned.
Undoubtedly, the facility will not just create direct jobs, but will also give local cattle farmers the opportunity to sell their produce and even increase their production to satisfy the demand. Through a collective business effort, the facility will no doubt be able to meet consumer demand, the investor said, adding that it has always peeved him to see the local market being dominated by foreign-made products, when there is clearly great potential locally to produce the same items.
“I’ve worked on milk plants in Canada, the US and in the Caribbean region, and have always wanted to be able to put that knowledge and experience towards the development of the dairy industry in Guyana.
“It is wanting to provide nutritious milk, and while the initial target will be the local market, as we grow, we are eyeing the regional market and hopefully we could reverse the trend of us [Guyana] buying most of our dairy products… we could push yogurt, a little bit of cheese, paneer, cream, and we could start taking a little bit of that [to the Caribbean] market,” Sharma said.
In essence, bringing a local brand to the shelves of variety stores and the homes of thousands nationwide would not be the sole aim of the company, as there is a wider intention to reduce the country’s high milk import bill, which was last recorded at US$35 million per annum.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest), Peter Ramsaroop, has said that there is a ready-market for the Amaya Milk Company’s investment.
“That the Amaya Milk Company is seeking to establish its operations here in Guyana is indeed a pioneering move that is timely and relevant. This investment is precisely the kind we want to see coming from the diaspora.
“One of our aims at Go-Invest is to foster diaspora investment in agricultural value chains in small and medium sized agri-businesses. We at Go-Invest look forward to more investments from our Guyanese diaspora so that together we can build a prosperous Guyana,” Ramsaroop said.
While this investment is significant, the CEO said that there should be more investors in the sector.
“We are looking for investors in other parts of the country to expand this industry… the overall dairy industry is a lucrative market for investors and we expect to see a lot more like this in the near future,” Ramsaroop related.
Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, in a past report, had said that a dairy plant would be a significant boost for local farmers since they have been lacking such technologies and facilities.
“The Ministry of Agriculture indeed takes pride to welcome such investments and encourages our local farmers to take full advantage of this kind of facility,” the agriculture minister said, adding that it would also increase Guyana’s exports.
For years, Guyana’s ‘potential’ to become the breadbasket of the Caribbean has been under the spotlight and while the rhetoric has outweighed action on this front, the country will be looking to realise its potential in the coming years, with immediate focus on tapping at least 15 per cent of the US$6 billion regional food import bill.
Most of the commodities, which form part of this huge bill, are sourced from the “developed world” while Guyana, a member state of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), has the potential to supply a sizeable amount of those commodities. It was reported that ten commodities – food preparations, wheat, rice, chicken, non-alcoholic beverages, maize, soya bean, sugar and palm oil — account for more than 40 per cent of CARICOM’s food import bill.
Immediately, based on this list, Guyana has the potential to supply rice, sugar and poultry, among many other things. And, there have already been attempts by government to create a business-friendly environment by removing Value Added Tax (VAT) on the poultry industry and removing VAT and duties on machinery and equipment for mining, forestry, agriculture and manufacturing.