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The Wowetta Women’s Agro-Processers Group has officially commissioned their farine processing factory in the North Rupununi, Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) as part of Agriculture Month 2018 celebrations.Two members of the Wowetta Women’s Agro-Processers Group showcasing their productsThe factory project commenced in 2015, and was funded by the Canadian Government with support from the Guyana Government, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), and Conservation International. It was executed under the title: “Empowering the women of Wowetta to mitigate threats of food security resulting from drought, flooding, wildfire, and extreme climate change.”Agriculture Minister Noel Holder and Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Minister Sydney Allicock were present at the commissioning ceremony held at the Wowetta Benab in the Annai sub-district of Region Nine.During his feature address, Minister Allicock said the project goes hand in hand with the vision of creating a green economy by empowering the people at the village level.From time immemorial, he said, the Indigenous people have been using cassava as their main staple, and today cassava has about 20 by-products.“The farine factory will now need large supplies of cassava, and you, the people, can supply the facility. Neighbouring Aranaputa has peanuts; let us begin to think about other products and support each other. Let us also begin to look at other crops that are not on the market, and process (them) and make an income for yourselves and the villages,” the minister is quoted by the Department of Public Information as saying.Minister Allicock also said Wowetta is leading women’s empowerment in the North Rupununi, and urged other villages to follow suit.Minister Holder said the contribution of the agriculture sector to the reduction of poverty and enhancement of food security can be undermined by both obvious and less visible disasters due to flooding and drought. “Therefore, we are tasked with attaining more resilient food systems. To achieve this, we need to foster the development of those systems which are designed to reduce disaster risk, such as this farine processing facility with the stocking capacity of 10,000 pounds of farine,” Minister Allicock said.He underscored the importance of adding value to the products produced at the factory, and assured the women’s group that the Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC) would purchase their products. He noted that their farine already is available in the Guyana Shop in Georgetown.Chairperson of the Wowetta Women’s Group, Priscilla Torres, explained that the group started in 2008, when it was observed that a large number of women in the village were migrating to Brazil to seek jobs.During that time, Torres said, the women’s group began farming several acres of land by way of self-help. The Village Council and Woweta Village Enterprise provided support to the venture.“Today our dreams have come true. While we had a number of challenges, we are happy with the success of the project, and we are proud to say that we have achieved all of our goals,” she declared.From inception of the project, the women benefited from training in customer care, record keeping, maintenance, food handling and business management, among other areas.Once completed, the facility was registered, and an inspection conducted by the Health Ministry’s Food and Drug Department.