As part of its strategy to develop Agribusiness and boost economic growth, the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) hosted its second Agriculture Information Forum in Montego Bay on July 10, 2018. The Agency has intensified its promotion of agriculture with the aim of increasing investment in the sector, which the Agency says is not reaching its fullest potential.
The event featured perspectives on agriculture from the Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, the Honourable Audley Shaw, and presentations on key issues facing the sector including investment prospects in agribusiness, financing and innovation in agriculture, and ideas for agricultural marketing support and incentives. JAMPRO’s Manager of Agribusiness, Marlene Porter, focused on opportunities for Jamaican products in international markets and the processes in identifying potential export markets.
Capitalizing on International Demand for Jamaican produce
Ms. Porter noted that with world merchandise trade growth gaining its largest increase in six years in 2017, it was clear that agribusiness exporters had an excellent opportunity in the global market. She said the World Trade Organization (WTO) expects similar growth in the 2018/2019 fiscal year, and JAMPRO was looking to capitalize on this by supporting more exporters to access international markets. She explained that exports offer considerable opportunities for local businesses to expand, and the dollars earned, and jobs created are vital to propelling growth in the Jamaican economy.
The JAMPRO Sales and Promotions Manager for agribusiness said that while it was positive that total food exports for 2017 had a 7% increase over 2016, JAMPRO was confident that Jamaica had the potential to even more rapidly increase its growth in the sector, as Jamaica has the right products to tap into these markets. She mentioned healthier, natural and environmentally friendly (sustainably produced) foods as the major trend in international markets, and highlighted Jamaica’s exotic fresh produce as the major beneficiary of this development.
JAMPRO’s President, Diane Edwards, said she also believed that the Jamaican market had many untapped opportunities in the sector, and that more efforts were needed to capitalize on these trends. In her address to attendees at the event, she said, “Jamaica’s agriculture sector offers great business opportunities for investors; particularly in key crops such as yams, Irish potatoes, pumpkin, pepper, turmeric and others. But, have we really exploited the opportunities? Jamaica has the winning advantage with our unique topography, moderate climate, enviable soil components as well as the ecosystem; this means we should have greater production and output from the sector.”
To address the challenge and to further encourage the growth of agribusiness, Ms. Edwards said that JAMPRO would be working to educate persons about the opportunities that exist in the sector, and that the Agency has cemented partnerships with the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government to look at joint solutions to build and diversify the sector. “To really take hold of these opportunities, we must take the necessary steps to diversify the production of agricultural crops and move towards greater self-sufficiency”, she said. “We must also educate ourselves about the global evolution of agriculture; utilizing more technology in our farming practices, implementing global quality standards for exporting our produce, addressing financing challenges and managing local problems such as praedial larceny.”
With the global fresh produce market projected to reach US$2.4 Billion by 2021 according to the Statista Market Forecast, JAMPRO has set aggressive targets for the promotion and facilitation of exports and investments in the agribusiness sector and will be partnering with private sector bodies to undertake export development programmes to assist local companies to benefit from the global demand for agricultural products.