BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Jamaica’s agri-entrepreneurs will get access to a range of manufacturing, training and marketing support under a new two-year project launched on July 21, which is being implemented by the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC).
The initiative, the Increasing the Export Capacity of Micro and Small Agro-Processors Using the Cluster Approach Project includes access to an upgraded food incubator, training in world class agriculture and manufacturing practices and branding and marketing support for the Jamaica Harvest brand.
Daniel Best, director of projects department at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) which is supervising the initiative, says the project will “build infrastructure and capacity and increase the economic participation and opportunities of those in agriculture, especially women while also contributing to post COVID-19 recovery.”
The project, which focuses on growing exports and increasing the economic opportunities available to women and those along the agriculture value chain, is financed by the European Union.
According to ambassador Marianne Van Steen, Head of the European Union Delegation in Jamaica: “It is expected, that with the execution of this project … there will be enhanced access to local and international markets for Jamaica food producers. This will come as a direct result from the improvements in infrastructure, technology, brand development, and market promotion in the agro-processing cluster.”
Norman Dunn, minister of state in the ministry of industry, investment and commerce Jamaica provided the national context for the export-oriented, capacity building project valued at EUR197,130. He indicated that the government was committed to equipping MSMEs and the business sector with the resources necessary to enhance their competitiveness, innovation, productivity and internationalisation. He added that the mandate to transform the agro-processing sector was part of the state’s strategy to support MSMEs and enable them to leverage opportunities and achieve their potential.
The cluster approach being utilised in project activities seeks to leverage relationships of those along the agriculture value chain and capitalise on opportunities in agriculture and agro-processing to the benefit of all involved. Beyond this, the project will also create much needed entry points for Micro Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) involved in agro-processing.
Ivy Gordon, director of the Jeffery Town Farmers Association who represented the project’s beneficiaries at the launch of the project on July 21 welcomed the intervention adding that “Jamaica needs as many of us as possible to be producing and exporting to improve our economy.”
Valerie Viera, JBDC’s chief executive officer, highlighted the strategic importance of the cluster approach. “JBDC has always been a strong proponent of the cluster approach to development, having launched brands cross various industries. Our biggest food brand to date has been Jamaica Harvest, a line of gourmet food items produced by agro-processors from across Jamaica. Jamaica Harvest, which includes flours, cereals, snacks and spices, is currently sold exclusively through our Things Jamaican retail store chain. The entrepreneurs who form this cluster brand stand to benefit immensely from the upgrading of our food incubator which will improve their production capacity and quality.”
Desmond John, director, development cooperation unit, CARIFORUM Directorate also endorsed the value of the project to CARICOM’s work by deepening regional trade and further integrating our economies. “The rebuilding of our economies, including our agriculture sector will require collective efforts. The objective of strengthening Caribbean economies and advancing towards integration into the world economy is still alive, even as it may be more challenging,” he stated.
The Standby Facility is a EUR8.75 million resource managed by CDB, which offers opportunities to 15 Caribbean economies to grow trade, deepen integration and economic involvement; and impact competitiveness, market access, and exports by implementing targeted projects in thematic areas.