Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, the Hon Karl Samuda, says there is need for an infusion of technology into agriculture, as well as improved packaging and marketing of its products, internationally, if it is to contribute, significantly, to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows into Jamaica.
Mr. Samuda was addressing the launch of the 2009 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) World Investment Report, which focuses on transnational corporations and agricultural production and development, at the office of Jamaica Trade and Invest (JTI), Trafalgar Road, New Kingston, on Thursday (September 17).
He lamented that agriculture has been a “relatively minimal player” in Foreign Direct Investment inflows to Jamaica. He said that the most recent figures indicate that Agriculture contributes a mere US$1 million which, he argued, suggested that sufficient focus has not been given to building its investment capacity.
“It can’t work if we don’t identify our priorities, and one of the things that I think can make us move forward, is to be able to offer to the world the type of perception that Jamaica is a country of quality,” Mr. Samuda said.
Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Hon. Karl Samuda (centre), and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Reginald Budhan (right) discussing with Jamaica Trade and Invest’s (JTI) President, Sancia Bennett Templer, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) 2009 World Investment Report, at the JTI’s New Kingston office on Thursday (September 17), during the global launch in Jamaica.
“We, undoubtedly, are recognized, worldwide, as a country of quality with respect to our athletes and what we have done (as regards) our entertainers (and) our tourism product. But, to say that we are a country of quality in the production of agriculture, especially for export, would be to overstate the facts,” he emphasized.
He said that Jamaica is little known as an agricultural country, except for the traditional banana and sugar cane production.
Mr. Samuda suggested that stakeholders engage in the practical application of technology to precipitate a “virtual explosion” of agricultural development, devoid of the problems that have plagued the traditional crops.
He observed that the future of agriculture in Jamaica rested “squarely” in the hands of those engaged in research and development.
He said that investors interested in going into agriculture fear the challenges, because they don’t see the application of the kinds of technology, and the identification of specific areas, that give them the comfort level to go into agricultural development.
Mr. Samuda cited the need for “real and fundamental” proactive changes, to position Jamaica as having more to offer than merely “fertile soil and an ample water supply”.
“We have to, in a very real way, recognise that the world is going to be under pressure for food to supply (to its populace). So Jamaica has to play its part, in a very proactive way, and identify specific areas where crops are grown, and then go after the investment, after we have packaged them,” he said.
“It’s no use going out. and saying ‘Jamaica is a beautiful country. we have a lot of arable land that can be used. It has to be packaged.(and) presented the way you present any other product,” he asserted.
The World Investment Report is produced annually by UNCTAD. It details global and regional investment trends, highlighting key sectors for increased investments, noting the challenges faced during the reporting period, the role of transnational organizations, as well as provide details on cross-border mergers and acquisitions.
Foreign Direct Investments, or FDIs, are those made by investors in businesses located in countries other than their own, or investment of foreign assets in domestic structures, equipment and organizations.