Local agro-processing sector to be enhanced by joint CDB, EU, JBDC project
From left: President of the Jeffrey Town Farmers Association, IvyGordon shares some of the association's products with Dr NormanDunn, state minister in the Ministry of Industry, Investment &Commerce; Valerie Veira, JBDC CEO; and Ambassador MarianneVan Steen, head of the EU Delegation in Jamaica, at a projectlaunch held on Wednesday, July 21.

Entrepreneurs in the country's agro-processing sector are set to benefit from a range of manufacturing, training and marketing support under a new two-year cluster approach project launched late last week.

The initiative spearheaded by the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) is a joint partnership with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the European Union (EU), which, through a cluster approach project, is aiming to increase the export capacity of micro and small agro-processors.

The project, which focuses on growing exports and increasing the economic opportunities available to women and those within the agriculture value chain, is financed by the European Union. The EUR197, 130 project to be undertaken locally is to be funded from a EUR8.75 million standby facility managed by the CDB.

The fund was developed to offer some 15 Caribbean economies the opportunity to grow trade, deepen integration and economic involvement; impact competitiveness, gain market access and exports through targeted projects in selected areas.

“The project will build infrastructure and capacity and increase the economic participation and opportunities of those in agriculture, especially women while also contributing to post COVID-19 recovery,” said Daniel Best, director of the CDB projects department.

Ambassador Marianne Van Steen, head of the European Union delegation in Jamaica, said that through this project, Jamaican food producers will be given greater access to local and international markets. “This comes as a direct result from the improvements in infrastructure, technology, brand development, and market promotion in the agro-processing cluster,” she said.

Through the cluster approach project, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) will not only be able to capitalise on opportunities in the local agriculture and agro-processing industry, but also leverage relationships along the value chain. Under the project agro-entrepreneurs are to gain access to an upgraded food incubator, training in world-class agriculture and manufacturing practices as well as branding and marketing support.

JBDC's CEO Valerie Viera, in highlighting the strategic importance of the cluster approach, said that local entrepreneurs stand to benefit immensely as they get access to facilities which will improve their production capacity and quality.

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