Fiscal incentives and the establishment of banana and mixed crop agro-parks are initiatives to encourage Diaspora investment in the agro-business sector. Farming may not be the first investment to come to mind, but with Government initiatives to apply a market development approach to production development and output efficiency, it may be a viable option.
“The sector is opening up numerous opportunities focusing specifically on the value-added component,” according to State Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Luther Buchanan.
There are now nine agro-parks in Jamaica. However, further facilities and services are needed such as intermediary agro-processing facilities, post-harvest management and agro-processing. These are areas primed for investment. The government has undertaken a value chain approach to the development of the sector, which is a market systems approaches to development. In short, the initiatives will enable entities to deliver a product to local and international consumers more efficiently, with a similar or higher quality than competing countries.
Traditional agriculture is not being left out in the cold, but will also benefit from the streamlining of the value-chained benefits of the agro-parks. Some of the products the government is focusing on are ginger, Irish potato, onion, pineapple, yam, turmeric, sweet potato and melon. Farmers are benefiting too. They have formed co-operatives and provident societies and are being trained through the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).
Infrastructure such as irrigation systems and roads have been constructed or upgraded to increase productivity and transportation of products from agro-farms.
According to Minister in the Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Karl Samuda, government policy will seek to intensify efforts to get more local agri-products into the overseas markets.
In Jamaica, Diaspora remittances totaled nearly US$2.3 billion in 2016. It shows that the Diaspora already contributes significantly to the economy. While these remittances are largely for consumption purposes; it arguably shows the potential for diasporic involvement in productive means including agriculture.