On October 5, 2017, the local market welcomed one of Guyana’s healthiest and tastiest products–the Morning Glory Cereal. It is produced at the Morning Glory Rice Cereal Manufacturing Facility in Anna Regina. The project, which was launched by the PPP Administration in March of 2015, took two and a half years to complete. Though plagued during its early stages by a variety of bureaucratic and administrative challenges, the project was impressively delivered by the Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST).
Since its use by hundreds of Guyanese, there is only one word which one can use to describe the product: Impressive! From the immaculate and world-class packaging to the taste profile and the texture and general organoleptic appeal of the cereal to the impressive nutritional profile, the product has received unanimous praise from various enterprises.
Based on information provided by the IAST, the product has a superior nutritional profile to several of the other well-known brands in the market, such as Kelloggs, Kashi, Nature Valley, General Mills, Sunshine Snacks and others. Furthermore, the cereal is fortified with an impressive vitamin profile. One serving of the Morning Glory Rice Cereal provides a full quarter of the daily recommended intake of vitamins.
Importantly, this product adds significant value to its main ingredient: rice. According to IAST’s Director, Professor Suresh Narine, the product allows 17 – 20 times the value of rice to be added, which means that this value is then distributed along the value chain in Guyana, rather than such products being produced from Guyana’s rice in other countries.
The process for the production of the cereal utilizes 99% raw materials, which are produced in Guyana. Indeed, of the list of ingredients, which include broken rice, rice bran, sugar and molasses, only salt, baking soda and the fortifying vitamin cocktail is imported. The broken rice is further milled into rice flour in a process which is relatively quiet and creates no dust pollution, and this is then mixed with fresh sifted rice bran, sugar, baking soda and salt in a high speed mixer. From this point onwards, the entire process is automated until the cereal is automatically packaged.
Workers in the plant, who are needed only to process the raw materials and introduce it to the process, and to monitor the quality of the cereal as it is produced as well as ensure that the plant environment is kept scrupulously clean, follow a strict regimen of hygienic controls. Firstly, no jewelry, cell phones, pens and other implements which can get into or contaminate the food product is allowed in the plant. Workers enter the plant only after they have showered in the facility and changed into medical scrubs, hairnets, gloves, shoes and face masks supplied by the facility. Any worker leaving the confines of the ultra-clean processing area is required to again shower before re-entering the processing area.
Office staff, guards and other employees are not allowed into the processing section of the facility. In fact, they are prevented from doing so by locked doors with restricted access. All staff who are allowed into the processing area are required to have undergone the Authorized Food Handlers Course, complete an exhaustive medical disclosure questionnaire, get 6 monthly health checks and are mandated to immediately report any health problems to management, so that the facility’s focus on food safety and security can be maintained.
All clothing worn in the processing area are freshly washed and ironed on a daily basis, with workers being assigned several changes of clothing and personalized lockers to facilitate the process. The processing area can be viewed by visitors and office staff, without breaking the hygiene controls, through windows constructed specifically for this purpose. Professor Narine explained that the design flow of the facility was motivated in part by the design of several food plants he worked in for M&M Mars in the United States and internationally in research and development. He was also loud in praise of Mr. Sewpersaud Manohar, the Head of the Food and Feed Department at the IAST, who he credits as the inventor of the cereal and who had extensive input into the design of the final plant.
The process generates no waste. Any cereal which is rejected due to quality deviations or over supply is fed to local pigs through relationships established by the facility with local livestock farmers. The facility has a strict quality control system. Cereals are assessed on the basis of shape integrity, coating integrity, colour, the degree of carmelization, the amount of product dust, the integrity of packaging, etc. The facility itself is kept in an ultra clean state, with the plant being thoroughly cleaned after every production shift and complete line preventative maintenance being performed weekly. The plant has the capacity to produce 200 kg of cereal in an hour, so that if three shifts are employed, it is possible to produce 1, 000 metric tonnes of cereal in a calendar year. Professor Narine indicated that one would never want to run the facility that hard, so 800 metric tonnes is a more realistic figure. Due to the amount of rice in the cereal, this is very nearly a demand of 800 metric tonnes of rice in a year, when the plant is operated at maximum capacity. Professor Narine said that any credit for the facility accrues to a dedicated, committed and talented staff at the Institute, led by Deputy Director, Mr. Deonarine Jagdeo. He pointed out that in a project so large, everyone among the institute’s small staff (the institute has 15 technical staff members) has to play a role. He was loud in praise for the technical as well as accounting and administrative staff of the institute. “I have been fortunate to lead large projects in several countries in the world and can say without any fear of contradiction that the current IAST staff is among the very best with whom I have been honoured to work.”