The Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) is implementing measures to stimulate economic activity as the country grapples with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The objective is to ensure that the economy can bounce back quickly once the worst has passed.
President of JAMPRO, Diane Edwards, tells JIS News that focus is being placed on agriculture and agribusiness through, among other things, helping farmers to access new markets.
“We have to… help those farmers who have excess production… both in terms of increasing supply to the supermarkets or increasing purchasing by people in the fresh produce arena, so that they can do more cold storage … and take more fresh and processed products and distribute them regionally,” she says.
“So, we have to look at the logistics chain, we have to look at finding more regional markets before the international market gets going again. So that is what JAMPRO is going to be focusing on,” she adds.
Ms. Edwards notes that for the medium-term, the agency will also be looking at getting more private investment into the ago parks and making use of idle lands.
“There are a lot of lands lying fallow. The Sugar Company of Jamaica Holdings Limited, they have thousands of acres of lands, which can be put into private hands and brought into production. So we have to do that as well,” she points out.
Ms. Edwards says that JAMPRO will also have to help stimulate new product development, as the country needs to look at new ways of bringing products to market.
“So, instead of always sending fresh produce, maybe we could look at vacuum packing of breadfruits and that product is already in the supermarkets here. We need to look at canning of some products, we need to look at different ways of preserving, so some of our fruits can become purées, jams and pastes,” she suggests.
Another critical sector to which JAMPRO’s is giving focus is the digital economy.
Ms. Edwards notes that with the onset of COVID-19, many persons are relying on technology to enable them to work from home, and that this may become a way of life.
“So, it is a way of getting people into the job market… . We think that the whole digital economy is another way of providing jobs because digitising the Jamaican government services is going to be a huge area going forward,” she says.
Ms. Edwards informs that JAMPRO is currently developing a national business portal, which is bringing a number of government services online so that people can access them.
“What that means is you need a strong and well-supported telecommunications infrastructure in order to enable a big expansion of the digital economy,” she points out.
Meanwhile, Ms. Edwards says that the COVID-19 crisis provides “huge opportunities” to develop new products.
“There is real opportunity for us to be creative and to find new solutions to the problems in this period. People have time; they are at home. Yes, we are working, but we are working from a different environment.
“I think from this environment you will see a lot of innovation emerge, and this is where we need to start to harness the creativity of our people and turn that creativity into innovation, which means products that can be commercialised,” she notes.
JAMPRO, which is the Government’s principal investment and export promotion agency, was created from the amalgamation of three entities – Jamaica National Investment Promotion, Jamaica National Export Promotion and Jamaica Industrial Development Foundation.
It is tasked with stimulating economic development by promoting local and foreign investment in critical sectors, while sourcing new markets and increasing the export of goods and services from Jamaica.
The agency also works to improve the business environment so that more businesses can be created and thrive.