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Small farmers to benefit from Caribbean linkages

Published:Tuesday | August 18, 2015 | 12:04 PM


Small-scale farmers in the Caribbean, including Jamaica, are to benefit from a project geared at building marketing linkages across the region.

The project, dubbed 'Sustainable, profitable value chain and market linkages in the Caribbean', is being spearheaded by Sandals Foundation, Caribbean Farmers Network Inc (CaFAN) and the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (TCA).

More than 2,200 small farmers in Jamaica, Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, St Lucia, and St Vincent are being targeted under the programme, according to president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society, Senator Norman Grant, who was speaking at the launch recently at Sandals Ochi Beach Resort in Ocho Rios, St Ann.

Each country will be required to select key crops from a list of 26 that they have a strategic advantage in producing. This will create better coordination, management and monitoring among the different countries, he explained.

Among the list of crops are avocado, breadfruit, cabbage, carrot, citrus, cherry tomato, cucumber, ginger, hot pepper, lettuce, mango, onion, pineapple, plantain, pumpkin, sweet pepper, and sweet potato.

Grant said the success of the project could see the region significantly reducing its US$5-billion food-import bill.

Meanwhile, chief coordinator of CaFAN, Jethro Greene, believes the programme will bring significant benefits to countries in the region and halt the slide in agriculture production.

"We are not going to talk about the decline of agriculture any more," Greene asserted.

"We are ready to partner with the traditional private sector to tackle the food-import bill," he added.

In praising Sandals for its involvement, Greene called on other organisations to join in the effort to assist farmers of the region.

The project got life when CaFAN signed a three-year contract with TCA in June 2015, to build sustainable and profitable value chains and market linkages for small-scale farmers to overcome key barriers to access domestic, tourism and international markets.

This will be achieved through various aspect such as capacity building, organisational development, technical training, regional learning exchanges, and collaboration by stakeholders.