Prior to the incorporation in 1969 of the National Milling Company of Guyana Inc. (NAMILCO), a subsidiary of Seaboard Corporation of the USA, Guyana imported flour from various suppliers. Seaboard Corporation based in Shawnee Mission, Kansas City, USA saw an opportunity to set up a flour mill in Guyana and negotiated with the Government in 1967 to make this a reality. The land was purchased in 1967 in Agricola and construction by Taylor Woodrow & Associates and Ocrim of Italy was completed in 1969. NAMILCO was officially opened on May 17, 1969 by the then Prime Minister Forbes Burnham. Seaboard owns, either wholly or in partnership, mills in Africa, Haiti, Colombia and Ecuador.
The mill was established with a capacity to produce 3,300 one hundred-pound sacks per twenty four-hour period and 45 workers were hired. As demand for the product increased, employment opportunity for Guyanese expanded and we were the first manufacturing enterprise in Guyana to operate three 8-hour shifts per day. The milling equipment was imported from Italy and the electrical and storage bins came from the United States.
NAMILCO operated a successful business importing wheat from the USA and milling it in Guyana throughout the 1970s. However in 1982 the Government in power banned flour, among other food items, because of a decline in the economy. A thriving underground economy and runaway inflation resulted as business people procured foreign exchange on the black-market and smuggled products into Guyana. Customs and Police targeted flour for seizures as suppliers and consumers defied the ban. NAMILCO was asked to mill rice into flour which was intended as a substitute for wheaten flour but this failed since rice lacked the gluten vital to bread making.
The ban on flour was lifted in 1986 and NAMILCO, which had maintained a skeleton staff during the 4-½ years, immediately commenced the refurbishing of the mill. The Government of Guyana negotiated with the USDA to obtain wheat under the Public Law No. 480 and an agreement was reached in 1986. In August 1986 NAMILCO resumed production of flour. A levy was introduced by the Government which was meant for the development of the Agriculture Sector and the Government through various distributors controlled flour sales. Later, with the opening of the economy under the ERP initiative, the levy was dropped and the mill was allowed to sell flour directly to the public.
NAMILCO operated successfully with wheat provided under the PL 480 Title 1 and Title 3 programs and Section 416 (b). Under these programs the US Government through the USDA provided the wheat to the Government of Guyana. NAMILCO purchased that wheat at market prices from the Guyana Government and milled it into flour. Commercial wheat purchased by NAMILCO from the USA was sometimes imported to supplement any shortfall in the yearly PL 480 allocation.
In 1998 we recognized the need for smaller packaged products and NAMILCO was the first company in Guyana to commence packaging of bulk products into one and two kilogram packets. Rice followed and more recently, sugar. We also recognized the need for convenience products to meet the changing needs and taste of consumers. Today small packaging accounts for a significant portion of our production under our two successful brand names – Thunderbolt and Maid Marian.
Over the years NAMILCO has re-tooled the mill installing state of the art Buhler Packaging machines, scales, roller mills and storage silos. As we continue to do so, we strive to produce a consistent quality product. On our 40th Anniversary, we achieved ISO 9001 certification and through this we have committed to develop, maintain and continually improve our Quality Management System.
NAMILCO now exports flour and specialty flour products to the Caribbean, Suriname, North America and Northern Brazil. Together with our parent company, Seaboard Corporation, we strive to become a significant milling operation in the region.
Seaboard Corporation in Shawnee Mission, near Kansas City, KS, USA