22 September 2023 – Bridgetown, Barbados – Caribbean farmers may soon have additional export opportunities for their produce as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) facilitates a market assessment mission in the international market centers of London, England, and Miami in the United States. At a recent Dasheen workshop in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in July 2023, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, and Rural Transformation, identified new export markets as a crucial need for the growth of the agricultural sector.
Apart from dasheen, market data will be obtained on the demand for and distribution channels for additional Caribbean products such as hot peppers, ginger, soursop, mangoes, turmeric, and value-added goods like jams, jellies, dehydrated fruits, and juices as well as frozen and pre-peeled root crops.
The mission reinforces the objective of the Windward Islands Food Production and Trade Corridor, an initiative launched by FAO on February 3, 2023, aimed at strengthening national and regional value chain development. Several strategic meetings and site visits will be conducted in London, England from 27 September to 4 October, followed by Miami, USA from 4 to 11 October, led by Mr Jai Rampersad, FAO’s Trade Development Consultant.
The consultant will meet with the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines High Commission Office during the first portion of the trip in England, which will aid in organizing site visits to important markets and linkages to strategic ties to trade prospects. The pre-arranged meetings are set to cover several topics, including products, prices, quality standards, industry challenges, and logistics. Similar meetings will be scheduled with other high commission offices of the Windward Islands and other Caribbean countries. To review the current distribution routes, competition, prices, volumes, difficulties, and commodities, key stakeholders will be met and site visits to a variety of Caribbean marketplaces will be made during the trip.
The mission’s second phase, which will take place in Miami from October 4 to October 11, will examine existing trade practices and discover any prospective business prospects. Like the London mission, the consultant would visit the current Caribbean commodities markets and meet with key distributors to assess market needs.
The mission’s findings will be shared with local farmers to help them better understand price fixing, and distribution channels, as well as information on the demands and requirements of the market in terms of quality, packaging, and logistics.
In outlining the upcoming mission, Mr Rampersad stated, “International market opportunities have consistently been a critical challenge to the agriculture sector in the Caribbean. The development of these markets can be achieved through the creation of a facilitating environment for trade, such as an expanded distribution network, market entry support, logistics assistance, and communication of information. This would complement efforts to improve domestic production systems and foster additional trade within the agriculture industry.”
Dr Renata Clarke, FAO Subregional Coordinator stressed, “We need more market-driven value chains in the region, and to be producing smarter based on our understanding of those market needs. Our ongoing collaboration with countries with similar visions and our work with farmer’s organizations across the region aims to overcome this challenge”.