The Scientific Research Council (SRC) has moved to position the nutraceutical industry as a viable business option for current and prospective entrepreneurs, as well as a platform to promote and advance healthy lifestyles in Jamaica.
The Council, on Tuesday (November 3), launched its YES INVEST initiative at the Devonshire Restaurant, Devon House, St. Andrew, which aims to introduce and generate entrepreneurial interest at various levels, in the nutraceutical industry.
Nutraceutical is any naturally developed food supplement or product from which the body can benefit significantly.
In outlining the project, the SRC’s Executive Director, Dr. Audia Barnett, explained that the initiative resulted from an Organization of American States (OAS)/Government of Jamaica-funded research, which the agency conducted on nutraceuticals some six years.
“We wanted to establish a nutraceuticals industry in Jamaica, mainly because, when you looked at world trends, you saw the fantastic growth of nutraceuticals. We felt that Jamaica was ideally placed, and we have a wide diversity of plants. At the time, we wanted to look at plants already in the public domain so we looked at sorrel, lemon grass, turmeric, ginger and rosemary, (and) we found some fantastic facts about our own local products,” she informed.
Against the background of the research results, Dr. Barnett said lemon grass, commonly known as fever grass, was selected as a spring board for the YES INVEST initiative.
“We selected lemon grass, because it’s so easy to grow. It’s already in the public domain… and it has this beautiful, wonderful, revitalising aroma. So we felt that was a good one to start with. So we want to really kick off an essential oil industry in Jamaica,” she explained.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Mr. Reginald Budhan (centre), looking at skin care products on display at the Scientific Research Council’s (SRC) launch of the YES INVEST initiative, at the Devonshire Restaurant, Devon House, in St. Andrew, on November 3. Others (from left) are: Executive Director, Dr. Audia Barnett; Jamaica Trade and Invest President, Ms. Sancia Templer; Chairman, SRC, Mr. James Moss-Solomon, and Director of Project Development at Yono Corporation, manufacturers of skin care products, Dr. Andre Jones.
Citing opportunities with ginger, allspice, different types of mint, rosemary, and sweet basil, she pointed out that: “there are so many different plants that we can look at, in terms of essential oils. We wanted to… put together a model for you so that you could now (not only) use the lemon grass as an entry point, but you could also use lessons learnt from (it) to look at other (activities with other) plants.”
The SRC head advised that the agency is being supported in the venture by several other agencies including the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries; Jamaica Trade and Invest (JTI); Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI); Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC); and Churches Co-operative Credit Union Limited.
JTI President, Mrs. Sancia Templer, who spoke on behalf of Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Hon. Karl Samuda, commended the SRC on its move in leading Jamaica’s research and development agenda into new areas that facilitate the use of local products in the expansion of investments and exports, and, ultimately, economic growth.
She stated that the JTI was keen on working closely with the SRC “in promoting the export and development of these products.”
“We have said to them, ‘we stand ready to work with you, hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder to package and take these investments to market’,” Mrs. Templer added.
Director of Project Development at the Agro Investment Corporation, Mr. Courtney Cole, who represented Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, noted that the SRC’s work in the area of nutraceuticals is “well recognised,” with the YES INITIATIVE highlighting the “amazing products that are possible from our local flora.”
“None of this is lost on us at the Ministry, and we have been taking proactive steps in ensuring that, in the near to medium-term, there are available for the value chain, the products necessary to establish the agro-processing leg of the industry. As such, we have established the Agro Investment Corporation, which is responsible for promoting and facilitating investments in agriculture. Already, we have started to develop business plans, (incorporating ) fever grass,” Mr. Cole informed.
The AIC Director was also optimistic that the partnership between the Ministry and the SRC would result in future growth in the sector, adding that “our efforts will redound to future sustainability.”