Agri body’s di­rec­tor urges re­gion to build on suc­cesses

Jamaica Gleaner - - SOCIAL SOMETHING EXTRA - Christopher Serju Gleaner Writer christopher.serju@glean­erjm.com

Cor­po­ral Sherene Smith (left) of the Fire Preven­tion Unit ex­plains the use of a fire hose to stu­dents of Ja­maica House Ba­sic School dur­ing the launch of Fire Safety and Aware­ness Week yes­ter­day at the York Park Fire Depart­ment. Also pic­tured is Cor­po­ral Shar­net Trea­sure. SEVEN MILE BEACH, Grand Cay­man: ICHAEL HAILU, di­rec­tor of the Tech­ni­cal Cen­tre for Co­op­er­a­tion on Agri­cul­ture and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment (CTA), is chal­leng­ing par­tic­i­pants at the 14th stag­ing of the an­nual Caribbean Week of Agri­cul­ture (CWA), tak­ing place in Grand Cay­man, to ex­plore the progress they have made to­gether over the years.

Hailu said they should use this in­for­ma­tion to iden­tify com­mon chal­lenges and craft spe­cific mea­sures to trans­form the agri-food sec­tor for the ben­e­fit of Caribbean farm­ers and con­sumers.

“Trans­for­ma­tion of agri­cul­ture in the Caribbean is crit­i­cal in ad­dress­ing many of the chal­lenges that the re­gion faces. The large and growing food im­port bill is not only a drain on the re­gion’s for­eign ex­change, but [also] de­prives it of op­por­tu­ni­ties for eco­nomic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion and job cre­ation, es­pe­cially for young peo­ple, in farm­ing and food pro­cess­ing in­dus­tries,” he told par­tic­i­pants dur­ing Mon­day’s open­ing cer­e­mony.

The CTA di­rec­tor dis­closed that this year’s theme, ‘In­vest­ing in Food and Agri­cul­ture’, came out of the recog­ni­tion of the need to

Trans­for­ma­tion of agri­cul­ture in the Caribbean is crit­i­cal in ad­dress­ing many of the chal­lenges that the re­gion faces.

Mad­dress, in a mean­ing­ful way, the lack of sus­tained in­vest­ment, a very crit­i­cal con­straint for many Caribbean pro­duc­ers.

JOB-CRE­ATION OP­POR­TU­NI­TIES

“Mar­keted and dis­trib­uted prop­erly, qual­ity fresh and value-added agri-food prod­ucts can be dy­namic sources of jobs and in­come – if only the peo­ple be­hind these en­ter­prises can ac­cess the fi­nance and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment sup­port they need to turn them into prof­itable ven­tures,” Hailu noted.

“At CTA, we have been in­creas­ingly fo­cus­ing our ef­forts, work­ing closely with our key part­ners, on value chain and agribusi­ness de­vel­op­ment in the re­gion. An im­por­tant fo­cus of our work lies in in­creas­ing the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of small-scale pro­duc­ers and other play­ers in the value chain, help­ing them to be­come bet­ter or­gan­ised and profit from do­mes­tic, re­gional and in­ter­na­tional mar­kets,” the CTA di­rec­tor added.

At the level of farm­ers and their or­gan­i­sa­tions, the fo­cus is on two key ar­eas. The first in­volves im­prov­ing co­or­di­na­tion in spe­cific value chains with the great­est po­ten­tial such as roots and tu­bers, and fruits and veg­eta­bles. The aim is to en­able a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of farm­ers to in­crease their rev­enues by up­grad­ing prod­ucts, pro­cesses and pro­duc­tiv­ity to match mar­ket de­mands.

The sec­ond area of sup­port in­volves fa­cil­i­tat­ing ac­cess to crit­i­cal busi­ness de­vel­op­ment ser­vices, such as fi­nance, in­puts and value ad­di­tion. To this end, given CTA’s com­par­a­tive ad­van­tage of work­ing in the area of in­for­ma­tion communication tech­nolo­gies (ICT), es­pe­cially in train­ing and sup­port­ing young ICT en­trepreneurs, it is pro­mot­ing mo­bile apps to en­hance var­i­ous as­pects of the value chain.

Over the course of the week from Oc­to­ber 24-28, the CTA will un­veil some of the ini­tia­tives it has de­signed to fill gaps in val­uechain ef­fi­ciency and im­prove the prospects of all play­ers for gen­er­at­ing higher rev­enues by us­ing them.

JER­MAINE BARN­ABY/FREE­LANCE PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

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