JIS News

Agriculture Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton has said that Jamaican and regional entrepreneurs must position and brand themselves as significant business players, to maintain viability and sustainability in the global marketplace.
Speaking at the launch of the Caribbean AgriBusiness Association (CABA)/Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) project at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston on March 31, Dr. Tufton noted that Caribbean states are confronted with several challenges within the global context. These, he pointed out, include creating niche areas and markets within the marketplace, and being competitive in a setting, driven by economies of scale and prices.
“The challenge we (also) face is that we are small, we are fragmented to a large extent, because of geographic challenges. As a consequence, it is difficult for us to compete. The price for small companies and, frankly speaking, any company within any territory of the Caribbean is perhaps, the worst possible variable on which to compete, because there are so many much larger players out there, who are able to drive economies through larger production,” the Minister pointed out.
To this end, Dr. Tufton said the survival and viability of entrepreneurs in various sectors, including agro processing, must be driven by the capacity of all stakeholders and interests to utilize creativity and intellect in partnerships, to “improve on our natural state, and raise value through branding, understanding the marketplace in which we are competing, and valued added activities.”
The CABA/MIF investment project, which is jointly funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), through its agency – the MIF, Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA), and regional Ministries of Agriculture, aims to increase and enhance the export capacity and competitiveness of regional entrepreneurs as well as educate them on the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other trade agreements. The project is being funded at a cost of US$3.7 million in grants and other forms of assistance.
Endorsing the initiative, Dr. Tufton cited its importance to entrepreneurs in “enabling them to build capacity to achieve that position, which is so critical to our survival as entrepreneurs, and by extension, as communities, as countries, and as a (agri business) sector in general.”
“We (at the Ministry of Agriculture and the Government) intend to engage the process, because we believe that this is the way we ought to go if we are to carve out a niche, that critical position, for ourselves and our entrepreneurs in this country, and within the region,” Dr. Tufton said.
Project Manager and Regional Co-ordinator, Bernadette Ambrose, disclosed that the project has three components. The first, she explained, focuses on awareness building and training; the second, on the establishment of a Caribbean Advisory Group on International Trade, and the third, on a Caribbean Export Club.
“Under this (first) component, we hope to increase awareness about WTO requirements and food safety regulations, (and) we also hope to disseminate this information widely. Under the second component, it is hoped that we will work in tandem with the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery to identify market constraints and articulate negotiating proposals. The third component will provide sustainability to the project after its completion in 2009,” Ms. Ambrose outlined.

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