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JIS News

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is seeking to make the process of starting an agricultural enterprise easier, with the creation of the Agro Investment Corporation.
Started in October 2009, the Corporation is the business facilitation arm of the Ministry and is responsible for investment promotion and facilitation, and project and market development. It is a merger of the Agricultural Development Corporation and the Agricultural Support Services Productive Projects Fund Limited.
According to the Corporation’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Hershell Brown, agro-investors receive help with developing business plans, joint venture agreements, and all the other activities related to getting their business up and running.
“This is being done through a number of mechanisms. A main one that we are focusing on now is developing an asset bank.we seek to determine what use assets can be best put to, then we identify investors to marry them with utilisation of these assets,” Mr. Brown tells JIS News.
Other activities are being carried out, such as the Young Farmers Project, which seeks to identify graduates of tertiary institutions, and provide them with arable lands and assist them with technical support through entities, such as the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA). “In addition, there is the matter of infrastructure development as it relates to post-harvest facility. We have rehabilitated a yam packing house in Trelawny, and we have leased that property to an exporter,” he notes.
Mr. Brown explains that the Agro Investment Corporation is a facilitatory agency, and seeks to operate as a one stop shop, except for the credit component.
“Once the investors approach and they meet the criteria, we assist them with all the other processes, that is, to identify their market, put together their business plan and provide a sort of hand-holding activity from project identification through to project implementation,” he adds.
He notes that while the Corporation does not provide technical support, it liases with several Government entities, such as RADA and other research stations, to provide investors with the best possible technical services.
Mr. Brown points out that the agency works with investors who recognises agriculture as a serious business. “Any investor who is willing to get into production, recognising it as a regular business investment, we are willing to work with them, once it makes economic sense,” he says.
He emphasises that the entity is not seeking to duplicate the efforts of other government agencies, but that it puts together investment packages using marketing information from the Ministry, and by liaising with JAMPRO and RADA. “We pull all of that together, so that an investor can walk into Agro Invest and get a ready made package, sometimes on the same day,” Mr. Brown tells JIS News.
The CEO notes that the agency is continuing with some of the initiatives of the Agricultural Support Services Productive Projects Fund, such as investment in sheep at the Rhymesbury property in Clarendon, and working with pepper producers.