Thirty-two (32) women of Parishara, Central Rupununi, Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo), are now trained and certified in catering and the preservation of food including fruits and vegetables. The women also learned etiquette and basic table setting skills.Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Minister, Sydney Allicock viewing some of the food items prepared by members of the Parishara Organic Food Processors which were on displayIndigenous Peoples’ Affairs Minister, Sydney Allicock; Community Development Officer (CDO), Vincent Henry; Toshao of Nappi, Guy Fredericks; Senior Councillor of Parishara, Roy Andrew and the members of the Parishara Organic Food Processors groupAccording to the Department of Public Information (DPI), the women are members of the Parishara Organic Food Processors which already produces nut butter from cashew nuts and flour from cassava, sweet potatoes and eddo. The training was made possible through the Government’s Sustainable Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Development (SLED) programme which allows groups to access funding for income-generating community ventures.Addressing the graduation ceremony held at the Parishara Primary School, Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Honourable Sydney Allicock explained that the programme is part of a larger initiative to empower Indigenous people. He added that from this training exercise, the women can establish their businesses or even seek employment.“Our Government is for everyone… We believe in providing opportunities, we believe in partnership… We have major developments across Guyana and this is one of our key focus points because it allows our people to live a healthy life leading on to a good life.”These skills, he said, will be in demand once the Linden to Lethem road is completed and the Lethem aerodrome is upgraded into an international hub. Villagers are also planning to construct a guesthouse and create tourism activities around Nappi Lake. Minister Allicock, therefore, urged the women to develop the skills learnt during the course so when these facilities become available they would be fully equipped to deliver quality service to visitors.He commended the Ministry of Social Protection, headed by the Honourable Amna Ally, for initiating such a programme which has allowed the Indigenous people to access funding to empower themselves.More than 277 households benefitted from income-generating activities under the Sustainable Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Development (SLED) programme in 2018. An estimated 1264 persons including women, young people and entrepreneurs were the beneficiaries.Community Development Officer (CDO), Vincent Henry explained that the programme has been “life-changing” for many in Region Nine. In the South Rupununi, the Maruranau Woman’s Cooperatives purchased a minibus with their funds; Sand Creek Youth Cooperatives are in the process of constructing over 60 shade houses and a building for preservation of fruits and vegetables; in Shulinab, the women are producing dried fruits and vegetable with their solar dryers; while Patarinau will be establishing a ranch and constructing a butchery.Other villages that benefitted from the programme included Hiawa, Moco Moco, Aranaputa and Aishalton.Leader of the Parishara Organic Food Processors, Erlene McDonald said that her dream was to work towards establishing a training programme to empower women in her village, many of whom are single parents. She commended the Government for its continued support towards the development of the Indigenous peoples of Guyana.The women also had on display several food items they had prepared and preserved.