A new in­vest­ment guide for the Caribbean sweet po­tato sec­tor

The Star (St. Lucia) - - BUSINESS -

he Fi­nance Al­liance for Sus­tain­able Trade and the Tech­ni­cal Cen­tre for Agri­cul­tural and Ru­ral Co­op­er­a­tion are launch­ing an in­vest­ment guide for the sweet po­tato sec­tor in the Caribbean. The guide high­lights the in­vest­ment po­ten­tial in the CARIFORUM re­gion's grow­ing agribusi­ness sec­tor, with in­creas­ing global de­mand for tu­bers, added value of cul­ti­vat­ing the crop, and the gov­ern­ments' ef­forts to pro­mote pro­duc­tion and value ad­di­tion.

The in­vest­ment guide draws at­ten­tion to the ease of do­ing busi­ness in the Caribbean due to a com­mon lan­guage, strong fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions, and an es­tab­lished credit in­for­ma­tion shar­ing across the re­gion. More­over, Caribbean gov­ern­ments are de­ter­mined to in­crease agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion, weather con­di­tions are good, and soil qual­ity al­lows for the pro­duc­tion of up to three crops per year. This demon­strates the favourable con­di­tions for agri­cul­tural in­vest­ment in the re­gion.

Sweet pota­toes are a good can­di­date for in­vest­ment thanks to in­creas­ing global de­mand, good re­la­tion­ships with ma­jor ex­port mar­kets, and a strong tra­di­tion of grow­ing the crop across Caribbean coun­tries.

FAST Pres­i­dent and CEO Noemí Perez said, “This guide pro­vides prac­ti­cal in­for­ma­tion to fi­nan­cial ser­vices providers (FSPs) that wish to in­vest in the sweet po­tato sec­tor in the Caribbean. FAST hopes that, with the right in­for­ma­tion, more and more FSPs can tailor their fi­nan­cial prod­ucts and ser­vices to the grow­ing de­mand in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor.”

Three dif­fer­ent streams are ex­plored in the in­vest­ment guide: the macroe­co­nomic pro­file of the Caribbean, the sweet po­tato value chain, and the cre­ation of a favourable en­vi­ron­ment for in­vest­ment.

Caribbean gov­ern­ments wish to di­ver­sify their economies away from tra­di­tional sec­tors such as tourism, rum, ba­nana and sugar. Di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion into sweet po­tato will take ad­van­tage of the re­gion's well-es­tab­lished agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion sys­tems and ro­bust trade re­la­tion­ships with global im­porters of sweet pota­toes.

The sweet po­tato value chain is sim­i­lar to those of other com­modi­ties, where pro­duc­ers re­spond to de­mand and go through var­i­ous stages be­fore ex­port­ing their prod­uct. The en­tire process usu­ally takes five to six months. The guide iden­ti­fies a spe­cific type of sweet po­tato in which has a high de­mand among con­sumers and the added ben­e­fit of a shorter pro­duc­tion cy­cle, which al­lows pro­duc­tion of up to three crops an­nu­ally.

In­creased de­mand for sweet pota­toes from the EU, UK, and US mar­kets pro­vides an ex­cel­lent in­vest­ment op­por­tu­nity for the Caribbean farm­ers and small and medium-sized en­ter­prises. To reap the ben­e­fits of the grow­ing de­mand, farm­ers need to ob­tain fi­nanc­ing to im­prove pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity and ac­quire nec­es­sary in­puts.

CTA Di­rec­tor Michael Hailu added, “Ac­cess to fi­nance is one of the crit­i­cal chal­lenges that smallscale pro­duc­ers across the Caribbean and other re­gions where we work face in mod­ernising their op­er­a­tions and reap greater ben­e­fit from farm­ing. We hope the in­vest­ment guide will help in at­tract­ing badly needed fi­nances to the re­gions' promis­ing sweet po­tato sec­tor.”

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