Gov’t exploring non-traditional products for export

KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — The Government is exploring a range of non-traditional products to market overseas, as part of a deliberate strategy to expand exports.

Chief technical director in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Dermon Spence, said there is high demand for sweet potato, melon, mango, pineapple, yam, dasheen, pepper, pumpkin, herbs, spices and nutraceuticals.

He credits the demand to a strong brand name, and the superior quality and strong flavour of the country’s agricultural products.

He said that matched with a structured approach to marketing and finance, non-traditional produce offer significant potential.

Spence was delivering an address on behalf of permanent secretary in the ministry, Reginald Budhan, at the ‘Do Business Jamaica’ Agriculture Investment Forum, hosted by the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) at the entity’s New Kingston offices yesterday.

He said the government is seeking to facilitate coordinated partnerships to address the gaps that exist in order to tap into the full potential of the agricultural export sector.

 “We must build strong relationships among all stakeholder groups; between the farmer, investor, government, marketers and exporters. The government, through the ministry is seeking, therefore, to facilitate the forging of strong partnerships and linkages between the farming, investment, business, distribution, manufacturing and tourism sectors,” he pointed out.

Spence said all stakeholders must recognise the urgency of increasing production and productivity, containing praedial larceny, meeting international health and food-safety standards, increasing capital investment, building capacity and applying technology.

He noted that the Government is committed to increasing the export of goods and services in order to grow foreign-exchange earnings and drive economic growth.

He noted that gains are already being made, with export earnings increasing to US$13.2 million for the January to May 2016 period. This is 19.5 per cent more than the corresponding period in 2015.At the same time, the food import bill is trending down.

The agriculture investment forum, staged under the theme ‘Export-Driven Investments: yam, sweet potato, and hot peppers’, was the first in a series on export market potential and opportunities for various products.

It was used to engage potential investors, entrepreneurs, and a range of stakeholders in the agriculture sector.

The forum, held in collaboration with the agriculture ministry, examined the opportunity for the export of yam, sweet potato and hot pepper, as well as post-harvest and logistical issues related to the export sector.

Jamaica Observer
Published Date: 
Wednesday, November 16, 2016