The Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL), on Monday, signed a US$22 million loan agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)-Invest to further improve its production capacity of juice and milk.
The loan would also see DDL being able to continue to expand its energy mix.
The signing, which took place at DDL, was overseen by the Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh.
Speaking at the signing, Dr. Singh said that the transaction is the largest ever done by IDB-Invest with any private sector entity in Guyana and is in alignment with the 25 by 2025 initiative of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) which aims to reduce its large food import bill by 25 percent by 2025.
Minister Singh also noted that the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) Administration had encouraged IDB-Invest to do more with Guyana’s private sector.
IDB’s Resident Representative Lorena Solorzano-Salazar and Division Chief of Corporates Aitor Ezcurra pointed out during their remarks that the transaction will assist DDL in energy diversification and diversification in terms of products of the company as well as in the expansion of its labour force among other aims.
Ezcurra emphasised the importance of private sector development to overall social and economic growth.
For her part, Solorzano-Salazar pointed to the importance of energy and economic diversification and why the IDB-Invest considered the initiative imperative.
Executive Chairman of the DDL Board, Komal Samaroo, recalled that DDL was the first to be ISO-certified in 1995 and the first to establish a bio-mechanization plant in the Caribbean.
He said that the company aims to commit in excess of US$100 million in Capital projects as part of its future plans.
He noted that the loan agreement signed today would provide the resources required to fund projects in pursuance of the diversification strategy of the DDL group and the transition to renewable energy.
The loan will enable DDL to develop a new one-litre packaging line for juice and milk, set up an automated fruit processing line, and finance the construction of a 3.25MW solar photovoltaic (PV) generation system with battery storage for self-consumption.
The financing will also help DDL align its growth strategy by increasing productivity and diversifying beyond rum production to incorporate new and healthier products produced locally.
It will also contribute to climate change mitigation by incorporating renewable energy and replacing fossil fuel sources.
In addition, the financing will strengthen the local supply chain of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) fruit and vegetable producers by increasing the number of farmers that supply to DDL.
IDB Invest previously provided technical assistance to DDL to develop and implement solar PV and energy storage systems, promoting the adoption of energy efficiency measures and environmental improvements such as fire and safety and water management.
These interventions are expected to contribute to six of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, Affordable and Clean Energy (SDG 7), Decent Work and Economic Work (SDG 8), Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure (SDG 9), Reduced Inequalities (SDG 10), Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG 12) and Climate Action (SDG 13).