The Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) is pushing opportunities in agribusiness as it looks to facilitate greater levels of investment flows to assist the country’s recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Speaking in an interview with JIS News, Manager for JAMPRO’s Sales and Promotions Division with a focus on Agribusiness, Marlene Porter, says that there are several business prospects “right across the full value chain”.
“Agribusiness encompasses agriculture as in fresh produce, as well as the processing side of the business. It also takes into account all of the inputs that go into the production of agricultural output.
“We have opportunities for the input side where we need planting materials, and we need companies to come on board and be a part of that whole process… the whole nursery segment of it. The fertilisers are part of the input side,” she says.
Ms. Porter cites opportunities in crop production, noting that the Government is targeting several priority crops based on demand locally as well as in the global marketplace.
She further highlights livestock as an area that is ripe for investment.
“We have chicken and small ruminants, which are our huge opportunity areas… and of course aquaculture… and the need for us to look at how we can provide more of our domestic fresh fish in the market, because a significant amount of fish is being imported,” she points out.
Ms. Porter tells JIS News that JAMPRO is working closely with the Sugar Company of Jamaica (SCJ) Holdings to help investors access former sugar-cane lands, so that they can tap into the cultivation of crops and livestock.
“We are working … to identify lands that we can really package and put before investors to say here, these are some crops where we believe there are significant opportunities, and then we work to promote them,” she says.
“We actually work very closely with the Agri-Investment Corporation to package the crop opportunity areas, and these are put in front of the investors for investments. These include your root crops, which would be like sweet potato and Irish potato. We’re really looking to supply the full 100 per cent of our Irish potato needs,” she notes.
As it relates to cultivating vegetable crops, Ms. Porter notes that “most of the investors that are talking to us are looking to do it through greenhouses, because of the efficiency that you can get from the greenhouses and also the sort of protection from the weather that the greenhouses allow”.
She tells JIS News that production of orchard crops, such as mango, breadfruit, and avocado, also offers good prospects.
More than 1,000 acres of land in Toll Gate, Clarendon, have been reserved for a Mango Agro Park.
An investor will be installing an approved hot water treatment facility for the mangoes.
“This is something that we have needed for a while…it will now allow us to get our mangoes into the United States and United Kingdom (UK). Even though the UK has allowed mangoes to come in without the treatment, we will be better able to move these mangoes to these markets,” Ms. Porter tells JIS News.
“So, this is an excellent investment that’s coming into Jamaica, we have already identified the investor. They have received a number of approvals and we’re now really looking to see that project roll out,” she adds.
Meanwhile, Ms. Porter says that JAMPRO is looking at expanding the export market for Jamaican coffee.
She informs that a large quantity of Jamaica’s coffee goes to Japan, and the island is seeking to expand to other markets in the United States and the UK.
“Right now, we’re doing a coffee marketing strategy, which is supported by the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) project. They’re helping us to engage a consultant to do a marketing strategy for coffee, so that we can look at these other markets and how we can position and penetrate these markets for our coffee.
“The project is approved, so it’s really the rollout now with the engagement of a consultant to actually do that,” Ms. Porter informs.
The JAMPRO website states that Jamaica’s agribusiness sector contributed US$813 million to gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019. Exports of agricultural products and processed foods amounted to US$344 million.
For more information and support, persons can call JAMPRO at 876- 952- 3420 or visit dobusinessjamaica.com.