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Jamaican Agri-business, A Great Investment Opportunity

On Tuesday evening, I got the distinct privilege of being a remote fly on the wall at the agri-business seminar held in the Jamaican Consulate in New York City. I am indebted to the graciousness of Hon. Geneive Brown Metzger, Consul General, and the technical wizardry of Mr. Aubrey Campbell of the Jamaica Information Service in making this possible. My commenting on farming issues is most important to me, but details regarding that will have to wait for another post.

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Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and a high powered team was in the Big Apple to share the exciting happening in the farming sector of Jamaica.  Here is my take on his presentation.

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For the past generation, this segment of Jamaican life has languished at the margins, and was not considered a core element of a developing nation. Our taste buds have also lusted after foreign foods that we are a net importer of food products!   However, the recent wild gyration in food commodity prices provided a rude awakening. For example, corn prices went up 100% in a matter of months. This had a chilling, and rippling effect throughout the economy, from chicken feed and other goods. Suddenly, food security became a central concern. We began to understand why developed nations subsidize their farmers. They or we cannot afford to put at risk and expose the stomachs of our people to the whims of external forces.

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We however needed to develop a program beyond subsidy, and revive a farm game plan that would:

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Raise up a new generation of farmers with an agri- entrepreneur emphasis.

Profile our land for soil and irrigation matching to field crop or live stock development. Develop a database to keep permanent record of such needed profiling, and Include hurricane season implication in planning.

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Move from a splintered farm system to one where scalability and competitive economics is possible.

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Give farmers the knowledge of the various market places they are serving, and the where with all to  win customer mind share.

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Further develop an agri-processor infrastructure to add additional value point in the value chain. Have strategically placed processors ready to serve the farmers.

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Segment the product offerings and realize premium profits for the top grade produce.

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Provide and facilitate needed capitalization of the farm system to give it long term sustainability. Provide real and attractive investment possibilities for members of the Diaspora.

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Develop the human resources through a robust extension program.  300 new farmers between the age of 20 – 30 are now on board.

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Provide the marketing horse power to communicate and maintain the Jamaican brand. How else are we going to capture our share of the growing ethnic food marketplace?

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I came away very encouraged as to the scope and comprehensiveness of this blueprint.  The results after 18 months are impressive.  The high degree of professionalism and accountability is very evident, as this blue print is not a seat of the pants approach, but one that is based on research and a systematic implementation.

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It was reported that agriculture achieved a 13% growth in the last quarter!

Sure tourism held it’s own, but the heavy discounts given  to attract recession depleted consumers is not sustainable.

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Farming is indeed on its way back, and is worthy of our pocket investment.

About the author

metinking

I am an entrepreneur whose focus is on helping small businesses deploy internet marketing tools to leverage new customers and profits. I believe in the survival of the knitted, and thus champion those who are making a difference in our community.