The debate around the growing plantain chip industry and its potential has once again resurfaced and this time, the PPP’s Presidential Candidate, Irfaan Ali, believes that the product is one which his party understands better than the government.
Ali made the assertion on Tuesday while addressing residents of Wakenaam – a small island which sits at the mouth of the Essequibo River and has a population of just under 4,000 people.
The PPP has traditionally enjoyed the support of residents of the Island.
Ali told hundreds of residents of the largely Agricultural Island that when the PPP was in government, it had already negotiated with one of the leading distributors in the Caribbean to sell plantain chips under the brand ‘Island Chips’.
“The brand was island chips, and we were going to have this distributor distribute the plantain chips all across the Caribbean,” he shared, adding that plantain chips are imported in large quantities in all CARICOM countries, including Guyana, and it would have been a great opportunity for this country to capitalize on.
“We lost that opportunity because we did not have a government that understood how it [plantain chips] is connected to the international community and regional community” the Presidential Candidate posited.
In 2016 though, the coalition government built a chips factory in a neighbouring Island – Leguan – but it is yet to be operationalized.
The factory is one of four projects – two chip factories and two call centres – under the $1B Rural Development Fund.
Against that backdrop, Ali urged residents to take into consideration that it is “serious business” when they are voting, and they should not give support to a party which is there to “experiment”.
“It is about who has a better vision and strategy which makes us all better” he said, implying that his party does.
But this reliance on plantain chip as an economic activity is one which starkly contradicts the previously held position of the party.
It was only last year the PPP General Secretary, Bharrat Jagdeo took aim at President Granger for saying that job creation can start with the selling of plantain chips.
“It may start with plantain chips… small things could end up big,” Granger said at a press conference in 2017.
Subsequently, the PPP and Jagdeo criticized the President and made fun of his position on plantain chips.
Jagdeo even criticized the incumbent administration and said it was creating a “plantain chip economy,” and what is needed is the provision of jobs in the emerging oil and gas sector.
“What do we say to our children after you work hard and send them to school and to university and they get qualified? How do we say to them that they have to go and sell plantain chips on the street side? We want jobs in oil and gas for our children” Jagdeo had shared back in 2018.
It is believed that Guyana imports more than $150 Million annually in plantain chips. (by Ravin Singh)