Stakeholders in Agriculture converged at the Methodist Church Hall on Wednesday, June 13th, 2018, for the first Business Round Table Discussion on the OECS Agriculture Competitiveness AGRICOM Project, which aims to enhance markets and sales for competitively selected farmers, fisher-folk and their allied aggregators.
Speaking during the discussion, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Raymond Ryan, said that the project seeks to address the area of marketing in the agricultural sector. He noted that the project will utilize a value chain alliance approach by linking stakeholders along the value chains to facilitate the preparedness of technically feasible and financially viable business plans with support from the project.
The Agriculture Permanent Secretary pointed out that the project has four major components, namely: the support for preparation of Business Plans, the implementation of Business Plans, general agriculture services and enabling environment and project monitoring and evaluation. He noted that the expected outcomes of the project are: to improve marketing performances for both domestic and export, generate quality jobs, with emphasis on youth and women, increase annual sales of farmers and fishers, aggregators and agro-processors, improve technology adopted, and increase labour productivity.
Minister of Agriculture - Hon. Saboto Caesar
Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Saboto Caesar, expressed his confidence in Mr. Conroy Huggins, the project’s coordinator. “I am very happy that we have a very young, energetic, motivated, positive-thinking and hardworking man at the helm, in the person of Mr. Conroy Huggins, who is very well known to the stakeholders”.
Minister Caesar said that he was advised that in CARICOM, the food import bill is some $4 billion, and in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines it is $200 Million, and he was happy to be addressing the stakeholders who can assist this country in reducing its food import bill. He pointed out that “the Government has to put the enabling environment in place, but it is the work of stakeholders to make it happen.”
The Minister challenged the stakeholders to find ways to see what percentage of the $200 Million their factory, farms and cooperatives would help to reduce and to see what their contributions would be to the national exports from these productive sectors.
The OECS Agriculture Competitiveness AGRICOM Project is valid for a period of five years from June 2017- May 2023.
The event was hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture to facilitate dialogue between major buyers and producers to match demands for agri-foods with potential supply platforms in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, to promote and support the formation or strengthening of strategic productive alliances among key value chain actors and supporters and to share information on growth trends, plus market opportunities in key value chains and markets.
The OECS Agriculture Competitiveness AGRICOM Project is jointly financed by the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the World Bank at a total cost of US$5.02 or EC $13.55 million