APP Proceedings & Articles

WP#1 Equipping AgriMSMEs

Intra-ACP Agriculture Policy Programme (APP) Caribbean Action, with funding
by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF)
APP Proceedings No. 1 • September 2016

1

Intra-ACP Agriculture Policy Programme (APP)

APP Proceedings No. 1

Equipping MSMEs to Develop, Produce and Market Safe and Superior Caribbean Agri-Products

Workshop on Product Development, Marketing, Food Safety and GMPs for SMEs.

Lead Wordshop Experts

This APP workshop was jointly hosted under Components 2 and 3 and led by the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), respectively. It took place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Trinidad and Tobago during 21-23 March 2016.

Ms. Vidia Doodnath,
Food Product Development Expert
Participants selected to attend this workshop included operators of enterprises from CARIFORUM countries that offer products for sale to retailers and consumers, as well as producer group representatives from organizations such as the Caribbean Network of Rural Women Producers (CANROP), the Caribbean Farmers Network (CaFAN) and the Caribbean Agri Youth Forum (CAFY), for the purpose of obtaining valuable information to take back to their members for dissemination and practical application.
Mr. Stuart Maingot,
Printing, Packaging and Labelling Expert

Objective & Overview
The purpose of this APP-organized undertaking was to provide small-scale agro-processing enterprises, particularly those operated by women and youth, with access to knowledge that would enhance the marketability of their products in mainstream domestic and export markets as well as increase their capability to produce value-added products that meet international standards. The topics selected were intended to strengthen value-added processes and market opportunities, as well as increase the capacity to raise quality, volume, standards and differentiation of local value-added products. Workshop sessions were led by experts in the fields of packaging, design, labelling, food safety, good manufacturing practices, market segmentation and food standards. These experts made interactive presentations and provided one-on-one expert advice and evaluation to facilitate dialogue and address queries from participants with regards to the marketing, packaging, labelling and manufacturing practices for their products. Workshop participants were also treated to two hands-on study tours; one to a leading supermarket chain which provided the opportunity for practical, hands-on validation of the expert presentations and another to a leading packaging and labelling firm, where participants were exposed first hand to the world of marketing, packaging, labelling and manufacturing practices for their products. Ms. Carol Thomas, IICA’s International Specialist on Agricultural Health and Food Safety (AHFS) and Dr. Lisa Harrynanan, IICA’s Agricultural Health and Safety Specialist, Trinidad and Tobago, also made presentations on the 10th EDF funded SPS Project and Food Safety Management Systems respectively.

Ms. Carolyn Chu Fook,
Printing and Packaging Design Expert
Mr. Derrick Waddell,
Food Marketing Expert

Mr. Wayne Watts,
Food and Drug Regulations Expert

Proceedings

Workshop presentation topics included:
Improving Your Product
Packaging & Decoration
Label Design
Overview of 10th EDS SPS Project
Food Safety Management Systems
Understanding your Markets & Meeting the Expectations
Kitchen Operation at the Hyatt Regency, Trinidad
Meeting Market Requirements: The Food and Drug Regulations

Product Improvement
The market is always ready to receive new and innovative products or to welcome valuable improvements to already existing products. However, getting a new or improved product on the shelf takes a good amount of research and planning.
During the Product Development portion of these proceedings Food Product Development Experts shared knowledge and experience on this matter. Participants were informed as to what their options were when considering product improvements. There are several questions that must be asked before improving current products or creating new ones such as, is there a need? Will it sell/be profitable? Is there easy access to required ingredients and the technology required for processing? And, can I afford it?
Once a business owner determines what the rough idea of the new product is and has answered the relevant questions about that opportunity, it is time to move forward with more concrete actions. The information shared provided the participants with a clear path of action for product development.

Forms of Product Improvement

New flavour


New package size


Addition to product range


New look


Product modifications e.g., less sug­ar, low fat


Use of unique ingredient


Change to convenience pack e.g., cut up vegetables, seasoned meat
Stages of Product Development

Develop idea


Test on a small scale


Sensory evaluation


Modify as required


Pilot production


Sensory evaluation


Consumer testing


Final specifications


Produce on large scale


Advertise/ Launch
A Product

Tangible to the senses


Solves a problem


Rational decisions


Legally protected design


It is consumed


Build it into a routine


It can be debated


Lasts as long as the product
Knowledge Sharing Outcome:
Workshop participants should now be able to move forward with a solid framework for developing new and improved products. They were also able to spend time with experts at the workshop to share their ideas and get valuable advice and feedback. This is support that these business owners would not normally have access to so readily. Overall, new connections were made and ideas were shared with the end-goal having new, creative, desirable and quality Caribbean products on shelves both domestically, regionally and internationally.

Product Marketing
From the very beginning a mindset must be developed for a sustainable, profitable, growing company based on an understanding of the business context and how to meet customer and consumer expectations. Establishing a good brand is a large part of that process.
Participants of the workshop discussed the difference between developing a product and establishing a brand.
Participants were also reminded that our brains act as filters to protect us from too much information. We are hardwired to notice only what is different. So, participants were challenged to “Be different and focused.”
Merchandising was also discussed. Participants learned that merchandising should be based on the customer and shopper profile and having the right product and package, in the right place in the store, in the right position in the shelf and refrigerator, and in ideal conditions to stimulate purchase with the right communication material and message. All merchandising activities must be viewed as efforts that provide mutual benefit for the customer and the manufacturer. A deeper understanding of the shopper allows enterprises to segment their merchandising more effectively.
Printing, packaging and labelling bring the elements of branding and merchandising together. There are many factors which need to be taken into consideration in each of the three areas.
When considering the many options for packaging there are lots of elements to consider. Workshop participants reviewed the different choices and determining factors:

Packaging Material – glass, plastic, environmentally friendly, strong, clear, heat resistant


Fill Technology – production requirements and availability, fill volume, fill tem­perature, speed, sanitary requirements


Determining factors – cost, weight, availability, shipping requirements, at­tractiveness, ease of use, food grade requirements, flexibility requirements, trends, innovation
There are similar factors to consider when labelling, such as:

Label Material – white paper, metalized plastic, clear plastic, shrinkable plastic


Labelling Technology – semi-automatic, automatic, labelling shapes, shrink sleeve labelling
When it comes to printing, a business owner has to consider materials and technology, as well as design elements and of course other practical factors:

Print Technology – flexographic/offset printing using plates which are good for long runs and are cost effective; digital printing which does not require plates and are good for small runs and variability or versioning


Label Design – colour, typography, imagery


Label Elements – product identification, logo, brand, coding and marking requirements such as barcodes, expiry dates, production information etc., quality stamp


Determining factors – cost, run size, uniqueness, brand reflection, mood re­flection, ease of identification, trends, innovation
Discussions also included the importance of colour and font in creating a “feeling” for your product, as well as the significance of using your label to tell a story.
After the presentation portion of the workshop, participants were afforded the opportunity to meet with product marketing experts. Individual products and their packaging and labeling were examined. Experts provided advice and direction for business owners to move forward in the competitive area of food marketing.
Participants also toured a successful supermarket with experts where they examined different packaging, labelling and marketing approaches for the products which had made it to the store shelves.
Knowledge Sharing Outcome :
As a result of this portion of the workshop, participating MSMEs and producer groups are now equipped with valuable information to become more competitive through innovative packaging, labelling and marketing.
Meeting Food and Drug Regulations Requirements
As noted in the earlier portion of the workshop proceedings, packaging and labelling are important marketing elements for the success of any product however, there are regulatory elements that must be considered in these two areas as well.

Packaging is a means of providing the correct environmental conditions for food during the length of time the food is stored and/or distributed to the consumer. As per regulations, packaging materials must not impart any undesirable substance or taint to the food, either chemically or physically, and must protect the food product sufficiently to prevent contamination.
Good packaging has to perform the following functions:
1.
It must keep the product clean and safe and provide a barrier against dirt/dust and other contaminants. The packaging material must be non-toxic.

2.
It must provide protection against different types of hazards such as pressure (squeezing), light, bacteria, mould, insects, and rodents.

3.
It must provide accurate information so that the food is handled correctly. It should have sales and marketing appeal.
There are also particular regulations around claims made on labels. The principle on which the labelling guidelines are based is that no food should be described or presented in a manner that is false, misleading, deceptive, or is likely to create an erroneous impression regarding its character in any respect. The guiding principle is that the person marketing the food should be able to justify the claims made.
Knowledge Sharing Outcome :
As a result of this portion of the workshop participants should have a solid understanding that there are requirements that must be met for packaging and labeling in order to market their products domestically, regionally and internationally. They should also have a good grasp on what requirements might be and where to confirm to those requirements.

A Brand

An idea with intangibles


Fights a consumer enemy


Emotional decisions


Becomes a reputation


It is experienced


It becomes a ritual


It will be defended


Lasts as long as the brand
Think about the Shopper…

Who is the shopper?


Why is he/she shopping?


Which channel suits the shopper’s needs?


When is he/she shopping?


What are the shopper’s needs?
Elements of Product Labelling

Brand name or Trade Name of the food


Common Name of the food


Correct declaration of the net contents of the package in terms of weight, volume or number


Complete list of ingredients in the descending order of proportion by weight


Name and address of the manufac­turer or person


Preparing the food and its country of origin


Declaration by name of any added class II, class III or class IV preser­vative e.g. Sodium benzoate


Declaration by name of any added food colour


Declaration of any added flavour­ing preparation


Expiry date, Best Before date, or other date mark


Any applicable storage instructions e.g. keep frozen, refrigerate after opening


Preparation instructions, where applicable.


Instructions for safe handling, where applicable.

Who is responsible for food safety…

Producer/grower


Manufacturer


Distributor


Transporter


Retailer


Consumer
Challenges to food safety in Region

Inadequate (outdated) legislation


Inadequate inspection and monitoring


Inadequate record keeping and traceability


Training and capacity building in public and private sectors


High cost of implementing food safety systems


Inadequate support systems


Public awareness

Food Safety Management Systems
Food safety is defined as the assurance that food will not cause harm to the consumer when it is prepared and/or eaten according to its intended use. Food safety management systems seek to monitor food to ensure that it will not cause foodborne illness.
Participants at the workshop reviewed the most current findings, trends and requirements in regards to food safety. They also reviewed and discussed the HACCP system.
This system was created to install preventative measures to eliminate or reduce hazards in food. It is a proactive rather than reactive approach to minimizing, preventing or preferably eliminating the risk of food borne illnesses. Many industries now consider the HACCP, or HACCP-based systems, to be mandatory.
HACCP is designed to understand what hazards can enter into the food and food system; how they occur and how they can be controlled or eliminated. HACCP training is important at all stages – from the growing, handling, receiving, storage and holding of raw produce to value-add product preparation, labelling, storage and distribution. Workshop participants also discussed the importance of GAPs, GMPs and SOPs in the processing, handling and distribution of their products.
Good Agriculture Practices (GAPs) are a set of conditions and practices that ensure the food we eat is safe. These general principles must be observed during primary production: raw material, processing, packing, storage and transport of food to ensure its safety.
Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) apply to all segments of the food industry and to all parts of the processing operations including receiving, storage, processing, handling and shipping of the finished product. This includes elements such as pest control, building design and construction, sanitary facilities and controls, equipment and utensils, employee health and hygiene, raw material ingredients and storage.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are the steps the food company takes to assure that the GMPs are met. They should include the purpose and frequency of doing a task; who will do the task; the description of the procedure to be performed, including all the steps involved; and corrective actions to be taken if the task is performed incorrectly.
Knowledge Sharing Outcome:
Leaving the workshop, participants should be fully aware of the importance of food safety in all stages of the product lifecycle. They should also understand the need to put documented practices in place on which their employees are trained and kept accountable. These actions should go a long way in improving food safety and therefore the ability to meet standards both in the Caribbean and around the world.

Seven Principals of HACCP

Conduct a Hazard Analysis


Determine the Critical Control Points (CCPs) in the process.


Establish Target Levels & -Critical Limits.


Establish System to Monitoring CCPs.


Establish an appropriate Corrective Actions Plan for each CCP .


Establish Verification Procedures to confirm that the HACCP is working effectively.


Establish Record Keeping concern­ing all procedures & keep note of their application.

Overview of 10th EDF SPS Project
Ms. Carol Thomas, IICA Food Safety Specialist

Following a central theme of these proceedings and leading beyond the two-day workshop proceedings, an overview of the 10th EDF SPS (Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures) Project was given. The SPS project is being carried out by several of the partners that are involved in the APP and the outcome of the SPS project will have a direct impact on MSMEs in the Caribbean. The purpose of the project is to support the beneficial integration of the CARIFORUM states into the world economy by increasing production and trade in agriculture and fisheries which meet international standards, while protecting plant, animal and human health and the environment.
The SPS project partners are IICA, CARICOM, CRFM (Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism) and Comite Nacional de Medidas Sanitarias y Fitosanitarias (SPS Committee in the DR). The target group for the project includes regulatory personnel, industry personnel, producer associations and private sector organizations in the agriculture and fisheries sectors of CARIFORUM countries. The goals of the SPS project are to develop model legislation, protocols, standards, measures and guidelines in the areas of agricultural health and food safety (AHFS), including fisheries; to develop effective national and regional coordination mechanisms in the support of the SPS regime; and to develop and strengthen the national and regional regulatory and industry capacity to meet the SPS requirements of international trade.
Food Safety programmes that have been and will be carried out under the SPS project include many of the elements reviewed at this workshop including HACCP, Food Safety Risk Assessment and Good Agricultural Practices (Audit). MSMEs were encouraged to avail themselves of these and other programmes that are offered as part of the SPS project in order to continue to improve their food safety standards and ensure their product salability in wider markets.

Conclusion

Unless they are shopping at a local farmers market, very few sellers and buyers are in direct contact with each other anymore. Between them there is a multifaceted world of food safety requirements, product planning, packaging, labelling, merchandising and more. Before a customer can pick up a product and take it to the cash register to put money in the pockets of producers, there are many expectations that need to be met. From ensuring that a product is safe and meets national food safety standards, to making a product stand out from all the rest, navigating the world from crop to cash requires know-how. Large corporations spend millions of dollars each year to get their products on the shelf in good markets, and then off the shelf into hands of consumers. Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) traditionally don’t have the same money to spend. This workshop provided MSMEs and producer groups with the information required to meet food safety and consumer expectations in the marketing of agri- products in the Caribbean and around the world.
Aside from informative presentations, agri-preneurs were able to ask questions pertaining to their particular products and get sound, tested advice from experts in their fields. Best practices were shared resulting in an increased understanding of all-around good marketing practices and an awareness of standards and regulations for food marketing and food safety.
As noted by a CABA representative at a recent APP Technical Advisory Committee meeting, this workshop was of great benefit to their members. Going forward, it will be the responsibility of MSMEs to continue to pursue new relationships with experts and build on the knowledge that they have been given in order to improve their Caribbean agri-products and their marketability.

This series of project proceedings is produced under the Caribbean Action for the Agricultural Policy Programme (APP). The APP is funded under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) from the European Union and executed by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in collaboration with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the CARICOM Secretariat (CCS)/CARIFORUM.
This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union.

WP#2 MSMEs and Working Capital Needs

Intra-ACP Agriculture Policy Programme (APP) Caribbean Action, with funding
by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF)
APP Proceedings No. 2 • September 2016

1

Intra-ACP Agriculture Policy Programme (APP)

APP Proceedings No. 2

Enhancing Financial Service Providers Understanding of Innovative Agri-value Chain Financing Schemes for MSMEs

Regional SME-DFI Working Capital Development Meeting

Meeting Presenters

This development meeting was hosted under Component 3 of the APP led by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). The meeting took place at the School of Education at the University of West Indies in St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago during 26 & 27 November 2015.
Mr. Jethro Greene,
Chief Coordinator, Caribbean Farmers Network (CaFAN)

Participants selected to attend this workshop included farmer and agro-processing group representatives from organizations, such as, the Caribbean Network of Rural Women Producers (CANROP), the Caribbean Farmers Network (CaFAN), the Caribbean Agribusiness Association (CABA) and the Caribbean Agri Youth Forum (CAFY), as well as representatives from financial institutions from the Caribbean, and around the world. Attendees gathered for the purpose of discussing financials issues, more specifically, working capital financing that affects MSMEs in the agricultural sector of the Caribbean.
Mr. Vassel Stewart,
President, Caribbean Agribusiness Association (CABA)
Ms. Priscilla Torres, Representative, Wowetta Women Agro-Processors

Objective & Overview
In the Caribbean Region there is the specific need for pre and post-harvest financing schemes that are commodity focused and embedded in an enabling environment. This environment needs to include strong market linkages, appropriate risk mitigation measures and structured institutional frameworks for dialogue between producers, buyers and service providers.
Prior to this meeting both CAFAN, CABA, and some national chapters of CANROP, had independently identified very encouraging export and domestic market opportunities for fresh and processed roots and tubers. CAFAN and CABA had begun the process of crafting their Strategic Business Plans related to these products, and CANROP groups in Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago had initiated semi-commercial operations involving the processing of cassava.
All of these initiatives require the input of financing schemes that will ensure, in the short to medium-term, healthy enterprise cash flow positions and consequently, an increased but sustainable level of production output.
Against this backdrop, the APP supported the engagement and exchange between Development Financing Institutions (DFI) and Micro-Small-Medium–size Enterprises (MSMEs) of practical, solution-oriented deliberations on the formulation of pre and post-harvest financing schemes and working capital requirements with the goal of creating tangible, workable plans for moving forward.
Mr. Kemron Dufont,
Representative, Caribbean Agri Youth Forum (CAFY)
Ms. Noemi Perez,
Representative, Financial Alliance for Sustainable Trade (FAST)
Mr. Paul Dijkhoffz,
Representative, FactorPlus

Proceedings

Presentation topics included:
CAFAN Strategic Business Plan-Coordinated Regional Fresh Roots and Tuber Exports
CABA Strategic Business Plan- Composite Baked Roots and Tuber Products
CANROP Country Initiatives
Parameters for Pre-harvest/ Production Financing Scheme
Parameters for Post-harvest Financing Scheme (Factoring)
Investment Profiling for Commodity-based Industries
Interactive sessions included:
CAFAN, CABA and CANROP initiatives
Working Capital Study – Scope and Terms of Reference
Field Trip to Massy Supermarket Chain Store (fresh and processed roots and tubers)
Institutional Support for Working Capital Study/Investment Profiling
DFI-SME Interactive session

CAFAN Strategic Business Plan – Coordinated Regional Fresh Roots and Tuber Exports – Jethro Greene
CAFAN is dedicated to making agriculture work for the Caribbean. They understand, first hand, the great potential that this industry has to reduce poverty and enhance the quality of life in rural areas, increase food and nutrition security, provide opportunities for women and youth, and contribute to the economic prosperity of the Region.

After much research and deliberation CAFAN members have determined that investment of time and resources into development of the roots and tubers industry , with a major focus on sweet potato and dasheen and a minor focus on cassava and ginger, will bring positive results to the Region.
CAFAN’s proposed business plan is broken into two phases.
Phase One calls for enhancing the availability and timeliness of working capital for the sustainable and profitable marketing of farmers’ products. That is, increased access to funds on acceptable terms. Specifically, CAFAN is suggesting that it requires access to funds from financial institutions based on invoiced shipments. This is called ‘factoring’. CAFAN also suggests that funds be provided at the country level, not a centralized regional basket, and that CAFAN will monitor the use of funds and related activities to ensure accountability at a country level.
Phase Two embodies a plan to support the expansion of acreage for the production of sweet potatoes. Funds provided will be used primarily for the purchase of inputs, such as, fertilizers, pesticides and clean planting material. CAFAN would work closely with the respective Ministries of Agriculture and/or CARDI to ensure that productivity by farmers is optimized. For them to maximize benefit, farmers would be linked to the marketing arrangements developed in Phase One.
Post-presentation Discussion Outcomes:
It was noted that cassava is a low risk crop and therefore makes for an attractive investment. It tends to be grown in a multi cropping system and it is tolerant to poor soils and extreme weather conditions, such as, drought and high winds but not flood. Also, because of its plant structure and its traditional methods of use, it is not subject to excessive praedial larceny.
CABA Strategic Business Plan- Composite Baked Roots and Tuber Products – Vassel Stewart
The role of CABA in the Caribbean is to organize Small and Medium Scale agro processors to sustainably produce value added products, almost exclusively from regional primary commodities, for regional and international markets. It does this in a collective manner, so as to benefit from the economies of scale. CABA also has some cross cutting initiatives, such as, advocacy, knowledge sharing, provision of investment and project management services, facilitation of contract processing and pilot scale research and development services.
For this particular exercise, CABA’s Strategic Plan is confined to baked products produced only in local bakeries, and focussed on blending in cassava flour as a replacement for the traditionally utilized wheat flour, hence the term ‘cassava composite baked products’..
It is estimated that the bakery industry consumes 40% of all wheat imports to the Region. This has spurred governments and development agencies to set a target to reduce same by 25%. In light of this, CABA has collected relevant data from 13 countries in the Region. This data show that for the 25% target to be achieved, 8316 acres would have to be cultivated each year to meet a domestic market of 66,000 tonnes annually, valued at USD 65.8 million. To satisfy the same, an investment model was developed for a grated staple plant that would be required for processing. The cost of this facility, which would occupy 3200 square feet and produce 12 tonnes of grated cassava per day and 3000 tonnes per year, would be approximately 1 million USD. Therefore, to satisfy total demand, 22 of these prescribed factories would be required with an investment of approximately 22 million USD.
Post-presentation Discussion Outcomes:
For the CABA project, it was considered that markets could be expanded by reaching out to school feeding and other societal programmes, supermarkets and fast food restaurants, in addition to the bakeries. This would require a consequential increase in the range of final products to include fries/chips, finger foods and frozen fresh.
CANROP Initiatives – Priscilla Torres
CANROP has been in existence since 1999. However, by-laws for the organization were created in 2005 and adopted by six of the 12 national chapters, making CANROP a legal entity. This is an important characteristic when trying to secure financing.
Wowetta Women Agro Processors in Guyana, are beneficiaries of CANROP activities and a good candidate for investments resulting from meetings such as these. The Wowetta group, which was established in 2008, has employment for women as its’ driving purpose.
The group has been involved in cassava planting and processing since 2009. They have had good success linking to various markets locally, regionally and internationally. However, they still face several challenges. These include inadequate working capital, transportation within the interior and in and around main population centers in Guyana, and border countries, such as Suriname and Belize. Drought conditions also adversely impact the availability and quality of the cassava for processing.
Nevertheless, the group still has plans to build and establish a modern cassava processing facility, fully equipped with processing and storage capabilities. It would be funded by the Government of Canada, as well as assistance from many partners, including IICA, CUSO, CI, and NAREI. This facility, when completed will provide for increased employment within the wider community.
Post-presentation Discussion Outcomes:
It was recommended that, for the current Wowetta project, markets should be expanded to include Brazil and more emphasis placed on the mining communities. Technical support will also be needed in the development of successful marketing, including packaging and promotion.
CAFY Initiatives – Kemron Dufont
CAFY is a youth focused agricultural organization that is well established in certain areas of the Caribbean, St. Lucia in particular. There is a need within other national chapters however, to improve the group or collective organization. The St. Lucia chapter – SLAFY, has been selected as the model for other chapters of CAFY to emulate.
Currently, SLAFY is focused on charcoal production. With respect to the charcoal industry, the market is currently at the local level, with raw material inputs coming from shrubs and trees that have decayed in the forest, and trimmings from the wood sub-sector. There is potential for catalyzing market development, as sources for alternative and renewable energy are gaining more traction. However, the challenge is to obtain a reliable supply of inputs to manufacture the charcoal.
Post-presentation Discussion Outcomes:
This has been identified as a possible area for investment once viability can be demonstrated.
Overall Presentation & Discussion Outcomes
Post-presentation discussions included all participants and centered on the projects presented by CAFAN, CABA and CANROP. The goal of the discussions was to obtain the views of the financing agencies on what characteristics would qualify or disqualify these projects for financial assistance. Though risks relative to both production and marketing were identified, there was general agreement that the projects were very worthy of further consideration.
The financial service providers, especially but not limited to FAST and FactorPlus, concentrated on the protection of their investment. In this context, it was noted that written agreements, as opposed to verbal commitments, would be preferred. However, it was recognized that most small farmers do not have significant levels of collateral and, as such, legal written agreements most likely would not be of much worth.
Discussion then focused on other possible initiatives that may allow the small and medium sized farmers to obtain pre-harvest credit if they were to be meaningfully involved in the expansion programmes being proposed. Post-harvest credit is unlikely to encounter the same challenges. However, the financial service providers recognized that an effective post-harvest credit programme was only sustainable if there is a matching pre-harvest credit programme.
The financial institutions also noted several factors that needed to be put in place to substantially improve confidence that their investment could be protected, and that there was a need for further study of these project proposals relative to their financial viability.
They noted the need for phasing and possibly pilot projects as well as the required logistic and administrative procedures to guarantee success, particularly for that of markets, especially non-national ones. The exceptions are Phase1 of the CAFAN project, which is based on prearranged quality and quantity of individual shipments, and the proposed CANROP project, which is reported to have guaranteed Canadian financing.
Parameters for Pre-Harvest/Production Financing Scheme
– Noemi Perez
The role of the Financial Alliance for Sustainable Trade (FAST) is to catalyze finance through export markets. This paradigm is based on its realization that investors consider export sales to be a strong guarantee for loan repayments. This has been validated in practice, since the repayment rate at FAST is between 98% and 100%.
FAST, which has 152 members from 32 different countries, has four strategic areas, namely, SME Investment Opportunities, Strategic Sector Investment Information, Sustainable Financial Market Trends and Performance, and Impact Reporting.
In summary, FAST is an organization that identifies credit needs of SMEs, promotes tools to improve their credit readiness, pairs the most suitable financial institution to the particular SME, and does follow up action to ensure that the SME is successful in getting a loan.
Parameters for Post-Harvest Financing Scheme (Factoring)
– Paul Dijkhoffz
‘Factoring’ is a transaction whereby a business sells its invoices to a third party financial company. This is done so that a business can receive cash more quickly than it would by waiting for a customer payment. FactorPlus, established in 2007, is an organization that offers a micro-factoring product which generally buys small invoices.
In the case of Caribbean agri-business owners, the product that would be best suited is FactorPlus Mobile, which is accessible virtually anywhere. With this product, invoices that could be factored range in value from USD 3,000 to 300,000. The participating company receives 80% of the value of invoice and the remaining 20% is paid (minus the factoring fee of 4 to 6%) at time of receipt of funds from the purchaser.
This service provides immediate cash flow, limited credit risk collection and debt management. FactorPlus is currently ready to work in ten countries in the Region. In some other countries however, financial regulatory laws do not allow for FactorPlus to operate but work is underway to see this changed.
Investment Profiling for Commodity-Based Industries
Before FAST can begin to assess any company, they require their Business and Investment Plans. Once those are received they are able to categorize the companies accordingly, and prepare Investment Profiles. Category A companies are ready to be presented to financial institutions, advising what types of loans and/or grants are required.
Category B and C Companies need to come up to the level of Category A companies before they too can be presented.
The SME-DFI meeting determined some key requirements to enable regional agricultural SMEs to achieve Category A status and be matched with appropriate financial institutions. They are as follows:

An institutional framework for the SMEs; an existing Microfinance Alliance that could be explored is the Caribbean Federation of Credit Unions


Education to address challenges such as development of projections, prepara­tion of Investment Plans and Enterprise Appraisals, understanding the charac­teristics of the different types of financing available, achieving the conditions to obtain export certification,


Education of financial institutions in areas such as commodity cycles
In support of efforts to achieve these key requirements, IICA advised that within the APP, it is prepared to assist “needy” SMEs to arrive at a position to enable them to access financing. They committed to dialoguing with FAST to prepare Terms of Reference for undertaking credit-readiness assessments and the preparation of Investment Profiles. Also, agencies were encouraged to present possible enterprises for participating in the programme, and in the meantime may wish to concentrate on factoring as a means for accessing immediate cash flow.

Caribbean Farmers Network (CaFAN):
CaFAN is a regional network of Farmers’ Associations and Non-governmental organizations in the Caribbean. CaFAN’s major focus is to support training for and information sharing amongst Caribbean farmers. The CAFAN Secretariat holds training workshops and study tours, and produces regular newsletters and has been very proactive in advocacy and in mobilising resources from a variety of donor organizations from across the Caribbean and around the world.

Phase One Specifics:

Crop Focus – Dasheen


Country Focus – St. Vincent & the Grenadines, followed by Dominica
Phase Two Specifics:

Crop Focus – Sweet Potato


Country Focus – Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago – 60% of production


Secondary Country Focus – Dominica, St. Lucia – 40%


Varietal Focus – Red Skin, Orange flesh


•Primary Market Focus – European Upscale Markets


Secondary Market Focus – Domestic Markets, including value-added
CABA On-going Programmes

SME Food Processors Joint Marketing and Branding Support Service


Caribbean Food Buyers Club


Value chain development programmes at the commodity, industry and firm levels


Caribbean Healthy Carbs Programme

Caribbean Network of Rural Women Producers (CANROP):
CANROP is an organization that represents women producers from across the Caribbean. They have a concern to preserve and protect their local rural environments, support gender equality and empowerment of women through knowledge and skills building in the fields of agriculture and business, and produce and promote a wide range of agri-products from across the Region.
Wowetta Women’s Cassava Project Statistics to Date:

Acres cultivated – 23.5


Employees – 7 women, 1 man


Products produced – farine, cassareep, tapioca, cassava bread


Farine produced – 3800 lbs (1,727 kgs)
Caribbean Agri Youth Forum (CAFY):
CAFY is an agricultural forum for youth supported by the IICA. The forum is open to all Caribbean nationals, youth groups and associations with an interest in agriculture and related fields.

Initiatives to be taken to increase investor confidence:

A Cluster Approach, which supports the practice of interdependence for success


Training and Education programmes supported by CABA, CAFAN and CANROP


Provision of Value Chain Facilitators and Business Development Officers by IICA


Use of the Caribbean Development Bank (CBD) Loan Insurance facility


Willingness to use existing finance houses


A proper legal status for agencies involved and their existing and functional governance structures


A working relationship between CAFAN (production) and CABA (processing and marketing)


Technical and other support from CARDI, FAO and IICA in the cultivation of roots and tubers
Presenting the plan at the SME-DFI Working Capital Development meeting. (Photo: APP)

Basic Requirements Needed for SMEs to Access the FAST system:

General information about the organization


Description of the loan application


usiness plan specifying investment plans


Financial statements


Certifications


Credit history


Details on previous sales and projections for the duration of the credit


Production information for the last three years and projections for the duration of the credit


Organizational chart and brief description of your decision-making structure
The following are conditions for the use of FactorPlus services:

Due diligence is conducted on the company whose invoice is to be factored


Invoices are not accepted if older than 2 months


Invoices are only accepted if they are business to business or business to government


Funds are paid to the company only after delivery of goods or
Category A: Companies that are ready to be paired with a financial institution and who have met all the criteria as set out by FAST.
Category B: Companies that are almost ready to be paired to a financial institution as they have met most of the criteria.
Category C: Companies that are not ready to be paired with a financial institution as they have not met the majority of criteria. They require significant assistance for them to achieve Category A status.

Conclusion

Access to financing is one of the greatest constraints to success for Caribbean Agribusinesses. As the old adage goes, “it takes money to make money” and though frustrating, it is very true. This is why the APP thought it necessary to bring agri-business owners and agencies, and financial institutions together at this Working Capital meeting.
The meeting was considered a success by the mediators, presenters and participants due to the feedback received from attendees and the level of discussion displayed at the meeting. The farmer and agro-processing groups were very keen on the micro-finance solutions offered by FactorPlus, whose representative displayed a willingness to work with the MSMEs to alleviate the working capital problem faced by them. In addition, FAST demonstrated a very workable investment profiling mechanism which could be beneficial to SMEs in achieving the level required to access financial institutions in its network.
Several major outcomes stemmed from the meeting including the determination that factoring could be initiated almost immediately, with discussions between CAFAN and FactorPlus. Also, FAST committed to play a more integral role in the Region by preparing an investment plan for organizations, assisting in the creation of an investment guide video for sweet potato and cassava, and making connections between financial institutions and SMES. All of which will lay the groundwork for a promising outlook for future access to financing.
Participants in the meeting also established of a roadmap in terms of SMEs achieving credit readiness and IICA reiterated its commitment to continue its role in the development of CABA, CAFAN, CANROP and CAFY.
In short, it seems that there is an innovative and positive way forward for accessing financing in order to support Caribbean agri-MSMEs, and that will reap beneficial results in both the industry itself and across many other areas of the Caribbean.

This series of project proceedings is produced under the Caribbean Action for the Agricultural Policy Programme (APP). The APP is funded under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) from the European Union and executed by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in collaboration with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the CARICOM Secretariat (CCS)/CARIFORUM.
This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union.

WP#3 Governance for Producer Groups

Intra-ACP Agriculture Policy Programme (APP) Caribbean Action, with funding
by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF)
APP Proceedings No. 3 • October 2016

1

Intra-ACP Agriculture Policy Programme (APP)

APP Proceedings No. 3

Strengthening Governance & Sharing Knowledge to Support Successful Producers Organisations and their Membership

Producer, Enterprise Group & Network Governance and Dynamics

Main Facilitators

This APP workshop was jointly hosted under Components 2 and 3, led by the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), respectively. It took place in Kingstown, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, during 25-27 April 2016.
Mr. Robert Reid, International Agri-business and Trade Specialist, IICA

Seventy people from 11 CARIFORUM countries participated in this workshop. Attendees included leaders of regional and local producer, enterprise and network groups, including the Caribbean Network of Rural Women Producers (CANROP), the Caribbean Farmers Network (CaFAN), the Caribbean Agribusiness Association (CABA) and the Caribbean Agri Youth Forum (CAFY), National Value Chain Facilitators (NVCFs), Business Development Officers (BDOs) assigned to directly support CAFAN and CABA, and various panelists. They all gathered to discuss how best to strengthen governance in their respective organizations, and to share information and knowledge that group leaders could take back for the benefit of strengthening the production, marketing and organizational capacity of their members.
Ms. Sandra Ferguson, Consultant
Mr. Julio Ortiz, Director of Strategy and Business Development, Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade

Objective & Overview
The overall objective of this APP-organized training event was to strengthen micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) involved in farming and agro-processing to contribute to small enterprise development, poverty alleviation and food and nutrition security in the Caribbean. The specific objective was to improve the governance of local, regional and national producer and enterprise groups and networks so that they can better serve their members. And, to build up the production and operational capabilities of these same organizations through knowledge sharing.
The workshop and knowledge sharing were delivered in four sessions designed to: generate discussions, ideas and proposals for action in the areas of Producer/Enterprise/Network Group Leadership, Governance and Structures; orient potential financial advisors who could provide support to these same groups in the areas of Enterprise Credit Readiness and Investment Assessments; provide training to producer groups in Good Agricultural Practices; and to enhance knowledge and facilitate adoption of improved and appropriate farming mechanization and practices, by primary producers and agricultural technicians.
Mr. Guillermo Zuniga, IICA Cost Rica
Dr. Coleen Phillips, Veterinary Officer, Ministry of Agriculture, St. Vincent & the Grenadines

Proceedings

Workshop sessions included:
Technical Session One: Improving Governance among Regional Umbrella Producer and Rural Organizations
Technical Session Two: Training On Conducting Credit Assessments and Investment Profiles
Technical Session Three: Good Agricultural Practices for Sweet Potato and Small Ruminant Production
Technical Session Four: Country Execution Plans

Technical Session One: Improving Governance among Regional Umbrella Producer and Rural Organizations
Having a good system of governance is important for the effective operation of any organization. Governance keeps a group accountable and organized. It helps to give them a legal standing in the eyes of their customers or clients and business support systems, especially financiers, donors and governments. It also legitimizes their influence in their given industry. It provides credibility to an organization and its’ members. Today, stakeholders are demanding accountability and that is what governance provides.
The organizations represented at this workshop all have organizational structures in place which support regional umbrellas, as well as chapters or affiliates at a national level. As is to be expected, some of these organizations are stronger than others when it comes to building and supporting national chapters, delivering efficient services to their members and managing their ‘Secretariats’.
This workshop provided these producer-based organizations with an opportunity to examine their governance structures, and through discussion, brainstorm and share ideas which can effectively fill important gaps. Best practices in enhancing governance were shared and each organization conducted a self-assessment of their governance systems to shine a light on what is being done well and where their governance structures, systems and practices could be strengthened.
Knowledge Sharing Outcome:
Workshop participants should now be able to move forward with a solid plan for strengthening their particular governance structures in order to further benefit their organizations. They were reminded however, that one cannot take a prescriptive approach across the board in assigning models to organizations. Governance models must be based on their realities, the constituents they serve and the scope of their purpose. Governance models are built and improved over time and should be approached with great care.
While the general principles of good practices were shared, there were also many specific suggestions for improving governance. A few of note were the need to:

maintain a flat and cost effective organization: The experience and strengths of CaFAN were used to make the point and to promote this type of model to organizations with a weak national presence


explore the use of volunteers and coopting of existing farmers organizations in territories: Again, the CAFAN experience was touted as a viable solution that CAFY and CABA should examine and possibly replicate


establish commercial arms to support the sustainability of their organizations: This was of special relevance to CaFAN and CABA

Best Practices to Enhance Governance in an Organization:

Registration of an organization as a Legal Entity


Identification of a Board of Directors or Governing Body and the Corresponding Roles


A Shared Vision, Mission, Aims and Objectives of the organization


Documented Management Practices and Rules and Procedures


A Focus on the Importance of Leadership


Conduct of Regular, Inclusive and Participatory Meetings, that includes the taking of Meeting Minutes


Transparent and Timely Communication


Identify and Pursue Sustainable Funding Mechanisms


Identification and Replication of Best Practices


Planned Monitoring & Evaluation

Technical Session Two: Training on Conducting Credit Assessments and Investment Profiles
One of the greatest challenges for Agri-MSMEs in the Caribbean is access to financing to support and grow their businesses. Among the key activities that MSMEs should do before they can access financing are conducting credit readiness assessments and developing investment profiles. For credit readiness assessments, MSMEs are required to provide core information on their company based on the five Cs namely, capacity, capital, conditions, character and collateral. Once Credit Readiness Assessments are received the Financial Alliance for Sustainable Trade (FAST) is able to categorize companies accordingly, and prepare Investment Profiles.
There are several key factors that determine the Level in which a company is placed. Level A companies are ready to be presented to financial institutions, advising what types of loans and/or grants are required. Level B and C Companies need to come up to the level of Level A companies before they too can be presented. It is very important to identify those, among the thousands of MSMEs operating in agri-value chains in the Region, who are ready, or willing to become ready, to meet the conditions for applying for and accepting credit from financial institutions.
An Investment Profile should provide an overview of the operations of the enterprise including a summary of financial performance for the last year of operation, an investment objective, a financial plan, a repayment plan and summary of risk and risk management. Not all MSMEs will have the basic information requirements to allow for the preparation of a traditional investment profile however, that does not mean that their business cannot become credit ready as an important first step in developing their investment profile.
There are service providers, within the countries themselves, who are available to provide the technical advice and the support necessary to get MSMEs in the Caribbean credit ready. FAST is a not-for-profit organization based in Canada, Under the APP, they provided technical assistance to carry out these assessments for a selected number of agri-MSMEs who are able to successfully access quality financing. FAST promotes sustainable economic development by improving efficiency and transparency in financial markets for sustainable SMEs in emerging economies. They acts as a broker between SMEs and funding institutions across the world, focusing on training, analytics and matchmaking through an international network of local financial advisors.
Knowledge Sharing Outcome:
Workshop participants have been sensitized to the FAST credit readiness assessment and investment profile tools. Excellent first steps have been taken but additional training and guidance will be needed to move forward. Additionally, producer organizations have tentatively identified producer groups and entities that could fall into Category B of FAST’s Levels of Credit Readiness. NVCFs and BDOs will need to equip themselves to conduct the credit readiness assessments.
Going forward, it was strongly recommended that capacity for conducting credit assessments and developing investment profiles be embedded into producer organizations so that they can provide these services to their members. This would require that producers develop the capacity and discipline for record keeping, which is an important tool in accessing credit. Creative mechanisms are needed to ingrain the practice of record keeping among producers.
Overall, this portion of the workshop should contribute to the successful pursuit of financing for more Agri-SMEs in the Region, in turn resulting in stronger, more robust businesses and a strengthened agriculture sector.

The FAST Approach:

Identify credit needs


Provide tools to improve SME credit readiness


Analyze credit needs


Present an investment portfolio to an appropriate financial service provider


Provide support and feedback to the SMEs on loan applications
Levels of Credit Readiness:
Level A

Legal Status


Audited Financial Statements


Preferably more than three years of experience applying for and repaying loans


Stable relationship with customers
Level B

Legal establishment


Financial statements (preferably audited)


Some experience in soliciting and repaying credit


Potential to access new markets and buyers
Level C

Without legal status


Experience of receiving microfinance or informal credit


Limited access to markets
Technical Session Three: Good Agricultural Practices for Sweet Potato and Small Ruminant Production
Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) can make a world of difference when it comes to crop yield, food safety, quality outputs and the overall success of any farm. These are all important factors in strengthening agriculture in the Caribbean.
Sweet potato and small ruminants have both been identified as important commodities on which to focus attention and build successful value chains in the Caribbean. Hence an understanding of GAPs for both of these commodities was an important training topic at this workshop.
In terms of best practices there are several factors that farmers must consider in planning for and improving their sweet potato crops. They must consider soil type, nutrient content and agro-ecological zones; land preparation techniques; production of planting material using various techniques, both in field and under controlled conditions; planting; irrigation; crop nutrition and fertilizer application; weed control; identification and control of pests; determination of maturity of tuber; harvesting; yields from demonstration plots; curing of tubers; and the cost of production.
Knowledge Sharing Outcome:
Workshop participants were informed on sweet potato varieties commonly found in St. Vincent, Antigua and Trinidad. They were asked to compare those varieties to the ones grown in their country. At the level of the market, they were encouraged to produce high quality sweet potatoes at competitive prices, ensuring consistency of supply and to supply the market with the most appropriate size, shape and variety.
Farmers now also have a better understanding about how to conduct soil testing to determine the optimal fertilizer application for their crops, use drip irrigation for more efficient watering of crops, and use pheromone traps to control pests. Planting in cooler months was also recommended based on tests which showed higher yields when planting is done in cooler months.
At the end of the workshop, participants visited CARDI demonstration plots which were located in two different agro-climatic zones where they were able to see what farming techniques worked best on each plot. As a result they should better be able to determine what will work for their own crops.
In terms of best practices for small ruminants, there are ten key components to which attention needs to be paid. Many of these factors can be managed through regular record keeping. There are excellent software programs available that can do things like calculate conception rates, track deworming requirements, record animal and visitor movements and record other important aspects of caring for the animals. Reports can then be printed out and used for herd management, including problem identification and self-evaluation. Record keeping is really the first step in preparation for efficient operation and evaluation of any farm and, it provides the type of information necessary for being certified to export.
Knowledge Sharing Outcome:
As a result of this portion of the workshop, farmers and agricultural organizations should have a clearer picture of what is required to manage and monitor an efficient, certifiable small ruminant operation.
Technical Session Four: Country Execution Plans
A good plan begins with an assessment of where you are at when you begin. IICA has been working in rural, agricultural communities in Trinidad and Tobago to better understand what their challenges are and how they can move forward successfully.
Once this kind of baseline has been established, an Action Plan must be created and there are some key questions that can assist in the creation of that plan:

What results do you want to achieve?


What actions are you going to take?


What are the indicators of progress/measurements of progress?


What is the timeframe/deadline for ensuring this is done?


Who is responsible?


What resources are needed?
With challenges identified and a plan in place, IICA has been able to move forward with some interventions in Trinidad and Tobago. To date, interventions have been at the level of government in designing sector plans, policies and programmes and a social accounting matrix. Community level interventions mainly include capacity building programmes targeting entrepreneurship, marketing, food safety, record keeping, resource mobilization, ICTs, product development and events planning.
It has been determined that there is a critical need to focus on the management and sustainability of groups. It is important to develop and maintain long term partnerships with communities to build trust and improve the rate of success in delivering technical cooperation programmes to community groups.
Knowledge Sharing Outcome:
Post presentation discussions identified some of the key areas where focus can be applied in order to directly address the types of challenges facing agricultural communities in Caribbean. Participants came back around to discussing good governance as a main solution, including strong and clear leadership and the importance of using conflict management practices. The value of strengthened financing through opportunities offered by FAST was also noted as an important area of focus.
Organizational representatives in attendance were also challenged to apply the questions for creating an action plan to their own organization. As a result, each group now has answers that can help guide their organization forward.

Key Factors in Staying Competitive in the Sweet Potato Market

Consistent Quality


Competitive Pricing


Appropriate Quantities, according to market demand


Provision of Appropriate Varieties
Best practices for small ruminants – 10 Key Components:

Identification and traceability – internal and external movement of animals to and from the farm


Record keeping – data on incoming and outgoing animals must be recorded


Optimal practices for breeding and young stock management


Feed and Water


Hygiene and pest control


Internal self-assessment and correction of non-conformances


Housing and Facilities


Veterinary health plan, which covers animal care


Animal welfare


Slaughter and sale

Jethro Greene, CaFAN Chief Coordinator, presenting at workshop. (Photo: APP)

Challenges identified in Trinidad & Tobago include:

A negative perception of agriculture by the public


Competition from other sectors


Tendency for groups to break up due to poor governance, lack of leadership and trust and poor conflict management, among other factors


Maintaining financial and production records


Obtaining and managing resources for community projects


Getting one group that proposes a project to obtain the support of other interest groups within a community


Determining how to distribute the proceeds from use of community resources


Over reliance on donor agencies

Conclusion

Access to financing is one of the greatest constraints to success for Caribbean Agribusinesses. As the old adage goes, “it takes money to make money” and though frustrating, it is very true. This is why the APP thought it necessary to bring agri-business owners and agencies, and financial institutions together at this Working Capital meeting.
The meeting was considered a success by the mediators, presenters and participants due to the feedback received from attendees and the level of discussion displayed at the meeting. The farmer and agro-processing groups were very keen on the micro-finance solutions offered by FactorPlus, whose representative displayed a willingness to work with the MSMEs to alleviate the working capital problem faced by them. In addition, FAST demonstrated a very workable investment profiling mechanism which could be beneficial to SMEs in achieving the level required to access financial institutions in its network.
Several major outcomes stemmed from the meeting including the determination that factoring could be initiated almost immediately, with discussions between CAFAN and FactorPlus. Also, FAST committed to play a more integral role in the Region by preparing an investment plan for organizations, assisting in the creation of an investment guide video for sweet potato and cassava, and making connections between financial institutions and SMES. All of which will lay the groundwork for a promising outlook for future access to financing.
Participants in the meeting also established of a roadmap in terms of SMEs achieving credit readiness and IICA reiterated its commitment to continue its role in the development of CABA, CAFAN, CANROP and CAFY.
In short, it seems that there is an innovative and positive way forward for accessing financing in order to support Caribbean agri-MSMEs, and that will reap beneficial results in both the industry itself and across many other areas of the Caribbean.
Participants take notes at the workshop. (Photo: APP)

This series of project proceedings is produced under the Caribbean Action for the Agricultural Policy Programme (APP). The APP is funded under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) from the European Union and executed by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in collaboration with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the CARICOM Secretariat (CCS)/CARIFORUM.
This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union.

WP#4 Greenhouses for the Tropics

Intra-ACP Agriculture Policy Programme (APP) Caribbean Action, with funding
by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF)
APP Proceedings No. 4 • October 2016

1

Intra-ACP Agriculture Policy Programme (APP)

APP Proceedings No. 4

Exploring the use of GIFTS to Tackle Climate Change and Strengthen Caribbean Agriculture

Regional Forum on Green Intensive Farming Technologies (GIFTS)

Forum Contributors

This forum was hosted under Component 2 of the APP, led by the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) with support from the Project Management Unit (PMU). It took place at the Union Agricultural Station in St. Lucia, during 8 – 10 December 2015.
Ruel L. A Ellis, PhD, Faculty of Engineering, University of the West Indies (UWI)

Participants of this forum included 21 people from across the Caribbean who have a vested interest in the use of GIFTs in regional agriculture including farmers, agricultural officers, expert practitioners, country, ministry, college, university and youth representatives, engineers, scientists and representatives of agricultural development organizations. They all gathered for the purpose of sharing knowledge and experiences, and to engage in open dialogue about using GIFTs to foster greater farm profitability in the Caribbean.
Jervis Rowe, PA Specialist, Jamaica Greenhouse Growers Association
Michael Bowleg, Aquaponic Technician, The Island School/Cape Eleuthera Institute, The Bahamas
Objective & Overview
The challenges and vulnerabilities of farming in the Caribbean Region are, by now, well known and documented. These difficulties continue to impact productivity levels and the search for practical, affordable and long-term solutions continues. The increased frequency of erratic and extreme weather events, largely attributed to climate change, have made this pursuit for solutions even more urgent.
To respond and adjust to these changing realities, farmers in all countries of the Region have been exploring existing, emerging and appropriate farming systems. They are investigating practices, technologies and innovations designed to deliver more sustainable, resilient and productive small farm production. This search for solutions is embracing both traditional-knowledge based ‘sustainable’ practices and imported green intensive farming technologies (GIFTs) in order to maintain and increase the economic viability of the food system.
The GIFT forum was designed to establish what is meant by ‘green intensive farming technologies’ and determine where countries of the Region are in terms of adopting these technologies. The sessions aimed to enhance understanding of the factors driving emphasis on protected agriculture (PA) and to clarify key issues that affect their optimal application. It was expected that the Forum would explore how far the Region wants to go in adopting GIFTS and to arrive at a clear framework to guide current and future farmers on how to improve on their existing practices, or establish new operations, based on best practices that are available and have been validated in the Caribbean.

Ofer Berkovich, Technical Director, Jamaica Drip Irrigation
Brent Eversley, Practitioner, Green Farm Nation Ltd.
George Emmanuel, Research Assistant, CARDI, Saint Lucia
Mr. Thaddius Constantine, Research Officer, Ministry of Food Production, Fisheries, Co-operatives and Rural Development
Anthony Bonaparte, Dean of Agriculture, Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC)

Proceedings

Forum sessions included:
Opening Ceremony
Technical Overview of GIFTS
Filling in the Framework for Action
Sharing of Experiences – Green Technology: The Saint Lucia/Mexico Experience
GIFTS as a Practical Response to Climate Change
GIFTS as a “Pull Factor” for a New Generation of Market-Driven Business Farmers
Comparing Protected Agriculture Experiences – Field Trip
Combining Experiences, Solutions and Innovation; Proposals for Action
Opening Ceremony
There was a general consensus amongst all speakers at the opening of the GIFT Technical Forum that pursuing green intensive farming technologies in the Caribbean is vital. Climate change, and the growing frequency of catastrophic climate events such as droughts, floods, changes in rainfall and temperature patterns and new pests and diseases, all impact productivity and have brought new realities for farming in the Region.
But climate change is not the only issue challenging farming in the Caribbean. The continued use of outdated and inappropriate technologies further hinder productivity and desired levels of output; reduced demand from Europe for traditional commodities such as bananas, sugar cane, rice and coffee have had negative impacts on profits and are forcing farmers to look to new commodities; and the flood of imported goods into the Region are constraining farmers’ abilities to make a good living and grow their businesses.
On a positive note, innovative alternatives to what is currently being practiced on farms around the Caribbean are available, and have been tested. Protected Agriculture (PA) methods are a big part of that equation, along with other new and interesting technologies that address water, heat, humidity, pest and disease issues. These new technologies also have the potential for lessening negative environmental impacts, and offer opportunities to increase productivity, enter new niche markets and expand existing product offerings.
On their own, individual countries and organizations cannot tackle the issues facing agriculture in the Caribbean today. There is a need to foster a ‘working together’ approach amongst agricultural organizations, researchers, development organizations, countries, direct beneficiaries and other strategic partners. These entities need to ensure that the knowledge and experiences required to succeed are actively shared.
The APP is in synch with the general consensus that strengthening smallholder agriculture is the correct and viable course of action for the Region. Small holders represent the majority of businesses in Region, and their commitment to raise productivity levels and build resilient production systems through the adoption or adaptation of GIFTs must be a core element of the solutions.
Technical Overview of GIFTS
Caribbean countries have tried various strategies to boost productivity levels and raise the output of the farm sector. This has included the elevated use of agro-chemicals and fertilizers, the bulk of which are imported and hence costly. There have also been several attempts to ‘bring back’ farmer traditional knowledge and to blend innovation into familiar farming practices, such as organic farming and permaculture. However, these initiatives tend to be short lived and plagued with a lack of adequate resources to sustain these efforts in the medium to long term.
The philosophy of GIFTs is to optimize production, reduce environmental impacts, address environmental changes and create more sustainable farming systems in the Region. Sustainability extends beyond the economic well-being of the current generation and reflects the ability of future generations to meet their food needs amidst the changing climatic and eco-system realities for farming. The aim is to design farming systems where the output of food per square foot of land is more than quadruple that of traditional systems. For example, Protected Agriculture structures, such as, greenhouses and shade houses require less space and can yield up to ten times the output of open field systems. They also utilize sustainable technologies and integrated systems to optimize the conditions for successful crop production.
Filling in the Framework for Action
The end goal for the application of GIFTs is to use the right technology and management, to grow the right products that satisfy the market. GIFTs are being used sporadically across the Caribbean but there is a great need to inventory best practices and identify gaps before the industry can move ahead and pursue these technologies more efficiently and effectively.
During the forum, key issues that every producer needs to consider regarding a decision to transition from contemporary farming and invest in GIFTs, were discussed. For any farming enterprise, the decision on what commodity to grow must be based on an assessment of whether a market exists. Then, even with the right product, getting the farm logistics right is an essential starting point. This includes key factors such as a good location, adequate exposure to sunlight, a good growing environment and access to water and nutrition. These factors are important to allow for maximum results from investing in GIFTS, especially protected structures or tropical greenhouses, where temperature management is key. Overall enterprise management is also essential for successful results from investing in GIFTs, which demand proper operations, controls and support systems. These support systems include access to cost-effective inputs, labour, energy sources, production technologies and technical advice for good agriculture and business management practices.
Follow up Discussions:
Following the Framework presentation there was a recommendation made on the importance of ensuring adequate access to improved planting material through both regional germplasm banks, as well as on-farm seed banks. It was also proposed that a supportive policy and legislative framework was necessary in order to assist farmers and PA operators in accessing the market, through the provision of incentives and low interest loans.
Sharing of Experiences – Green Technology: The Saint Lucia/Mexico Experiences
Several learning opportunities have been afforded to Saint Lucians in recent months on the use of GIFTS. Mr. George Emmanuel, a Research Assistant with CARDI Saint Lucia, as well as ten Saint Lucian professionals from the Ministry of Agriculture, were provided training at the Regional Centre for Integrated Services for Agriculture (CRESIAP) in Jalisco, Mexico. The training was on Protected Agriculture (PA), which is commonly referred to as greenhouse agriculture. Additional CRESIAP-led training was facilitated on three separate occasions to over 100 Saint Lucians from a cross section of the agriculture industry.
The general objective of the exposure to the Mexico training was to enhance capacity to design and implement a theoretical and practical training programme. This training involved the use of soilless media for the cultivation of a variety of cultivars and assessment of yields from different growth media. Participants were provided with information and tools to enhance knowledge and skills for establishing and developing successful crops under more conducive “greenhouse” conditions which meet environmental and market demands.
Collaboration among The Government of Mexico, the Government of Saint Lucia, IICA and CARDI, also led to the establishment of two four-bay greenhouses for the hydroponic production of vegetables. One is located at the Ebenezer Farm in Roseau, Castries and the other, at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC) Farm in Grand Riviere, Dennery. As has been the experience in the Caribbean with the adoption of ‘greenhouse’ agriculture, the micro-climate within the greenhouses is not conducive to optimal crop productivity. As a result, upgrades have been undertaken aimed at achieving better temperature control mechanisms, such as, wet walls, extraction and circulatory fans and thermal screens, as well as alternative energy and rain water harvesting systems.
Disseminating the information gained from this training and these interactions on a wider scale, in an efficient and effective manner will be key to moving forward with these improved technologies. The development of well-structured and clear ‘how to’ print and video instructional material and tech-packs for growing specific commodities under protected agriculture will go a long way to encouraging the adoption of such GIFTs and improving the efficiency of their operations.
Follow up Discussions:
The main concern emerging from discussions was the issue of affordability as the current cost of operating greenhouses far exceeds the return on investment in crop production. Much of the costs are associated with the need to manage internal temperatures. Given that optimal and cost-efficient temperature management is key to viable ‘greenhouse’ systems, further research into these technologies from a Caribbean context will be central to sustaining farmer interest and adoption of these technologies. Once proper research and modifications are done, the recurrent cost (mostly energy) will drop. It is estimated then that the initial capital outlay can be recovered in 18 months due to the fact that the micro climate within the PA will be more conducive to productive fruiting and less vegetative growth.
As shared with participants, there are a variety of technologies that can work however, the technology choices must be informed by the conditions within which they are expected to operate and the cost of the investment vis-a-vis the market and selling price.
GIFTS as a Practical Response to Climate Change
The question that needs to be answered is, are GIFTs a realistic solution to the challenges facing Caribbean agriculture? In the Caribbean farming system, there are currently individuals doing their own experimentation in the area of GIFTs, without interventions from the government or institutions like CARDI or IICA. There is need to identify these innovators, assess what they are doing, especially if it offers viable solutions to common problems, and find mechanisms to share and scale up these ‘home-grown’ innovations.
One such innovator is Jervis Rowe, Vice President of the Jamaica Greenhouse Growers Association and proprietor of Abby Garden Farm in Jamaica. Jervis has constructed two experimental greenhouse structures on his farm as living laboratories. He has learned, through trial and error, that in Jamaica while the amount of light and quality of water is good, it is difficult to maintain low enough levels of heat to operate ‘greenhouses’ efficiently in a tropical climate.
He also notes that one of the main reasons for this problem is the actual structure itself. Many structures that are built in the Caribbean are brought in from North America or Europe where the climates are very different. Jervis is adamant that before selecting a structure, climatic data needs to be reviewed and issues such as location, orientation of the greenhouse, ventilation, air flow, crop size requirements based on elevation, temperature and humidity must be taken into consideration.
Ofer Berkovich, the Technical Director of Jamaica Drip Irrigation, is also doing extensive work in the area of GIFTs. He shared the many varied options for constructing appropriate PA structures in the tropics with forum participants such as Metal and Polycarbonate Greenhouses, Shade houses and Tunnels, as well as techniques for micro-irrigation and fertigation. Micro-irrigation is the injection of fertilizers, soil amendments, and other water-soluble products into an irrigation system.
Follow up Discussions:
The two presentations from expert practitioners generated much candid discussion about the pros and cons of adopting and adapting imported GIFT technologies, mainly greenhouses for PAs and drip irrigation. There was an opinion that too much emphasis is being placed on PAs as the main solution to challenges in the farm sector at the expense of similar emphasis on improving efficiency and productivity in open field farming systems. It was noted that during trials of open field vs PA systems, PA structures performed better in the rainy season however some crops like tomatoes and peppers did much better during the dry season in an open field.
It was also suggested that the industry in general promote the use of shade nets and houses, instead of greenhouses, due to their lower cost designs. Most parties were in agreement that these structures were a very important part of GIFTs and should be strongly promoted.
The different technologies available for cooling greenhouses dominated the discussion, especially since high temperature is a major problem and high cost factor in ‘greenhouse’ production in the Caribbean. It was agreed that more local and regional research is needed to identify the most appropriate and cost-effective technology and to create solutions to reduce the operational cost of PA systems, making the technology more affordable to the ordinary farmer.
A general consensus amongst participants was that when it comes to the use and management of GIFTs, there is a lack of knowledge in the Caribbean farming community as a whole. As part of the way forward, an inventory of success stories and effective practices in GIFTs is essential to inform decision-making and strategy, and provide more relevant business development support to farmers who want to adopt these technologies. With respect to the latter, these decisions must also be guided by market and economic analysis of key crops with the most profitable and highest yields because, as one participant put it, “our main focus is making money.”
GIFTS as a “Pull Factor” for a New Generation of Market-Driven Business Farmers
In order for agriculture to survive in the Caribbean there needs to be a new generation of farmers who are innovative, self-reliant and driven by passion for the industry. This is a simple fact. However, many young people are dissuaded from entering the industry due to market challenges, financial constraints and the perceived drudgery associated with farming. The innovation and environmental benefits offered through the use of GIFTs may just be the very thing that can draw them in.
Brent Eversly, a Protected Agriculture Farmer in Trinidad operating under the name of ‘Green Nation’, shared his own experiences transitioning from a technician in agriculture to a young farm entrepreneur. He outlined the roadmap of his three year journey which he made with very little assistance from established institutions. Through trial and error and the use of creative ways to access needed resources, Brent is building a successful business using Protected Agriculture systems for the production of lettuce and is supplying local niche markets.
The returns on his investments are very encouraging. As a result, he has been able to explore avenues for expansion both in terms of crops produced and market share. He is also committed to strengthening strategic alliances with other young agriculture entrepreneurs like himself, as well as with established institutions involved in providing development assistance to agriculture.
The Center for Sustainable Development is one of those institutions. At the GIFT forum Michael Bowleg, a young aquaponics technician, shared exciting new technology available in the area of aquaponics. It is this kind of technology that provides a draw to agriculture for young people. It is a potential solution for the lack of local food production and it promotes sustainability. The design and aim of the system is to reduce the cost of food production while diminishing negative impacts on the local environment. The center is reaching out to young people through school education programmes.
Follow up Discussions:
After the youth presentations, participants of the forum explored some of the key determinants and imperatives that serve to encourage youth to become engaged in agriculture. Sharing through the lens of their own experience and perspective, they generated some excellent suggestions for moving forward.
Combining Experiences, Solutions and Innovation; Proposals for Action
The productive and profitable use of GIFTs in the Caribbean requires collaboration at all levels, engineered by a mindset change among key actors in the agricultural sector in the Region.
Collaboration must occur in the area of learning. There was a wealth of experience and information shared during the forum, and opportunities to further spread that information need to be supported. The best way to do this is through first-hand experience. It has been suggested that by providing learning journeys, either by moving trainees or experts, the knowledge and skills required to support the use of GIFTs will be proliferated. The industry will then be provided with the platform and people that it needs to grow.
Collaboration must also occur in the area of Research and Development (R&D). Data collection, analysis and experimental design need to continue in the area of GIFTs in order to achieve the best and most effective technologies at the lowest possible cost. Collaborative experimentation in R&D must replace the ingrained tendency of institutionalized silos.
Investment in GIFTs demands a reorientation of the sector towards economic viability and financial resilience with the same emphasis as is being placed on increasing food availability and achieving food security. Business profitability is a proven ‘pull factor’, especially as it relates to expanding the adoption of GIFTs in the Region. Combining practical experiences, supporting home-grown solutions and exploring situation-appropriate innovation must form an integral part of the way forward.

Follow up Discussions:
Discussion centered on how best to foster collaboration among existing institutions in Caribbean agriculture. After reviewing the history of challenges in this area and debating various possibilities, the forum made a recommendation that CARDI, in collaboration with UWI, become an active focal point in the creation of a knowledge management system and the establishment of mechanisms to protect and sustain knowledge sharing and technology improvements throughout the Region. It was proposed that a consortium be formed to enable CARDI to fulfill its mandate in concert with UWI. In this regard, the APP Project committed to support a CARDI-UWI collaboration, starting with GIFT.

“The Region is facing many challenges in the agriculture sector. One of the major challenges to the viability of Caribbean agriculture is its vulnerability to natural disasters.”
~~
Mr. John King, IICA Representative in the Eastern Caribbean
“We believe that it is by leveraging the strengths that each of these institutions brings to the table that we will be able to best address the challenges facing the agriculture sector in the Region.”
~~
Dr. Darrius Gabriel, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Food Production, Fisheries, Cooperatives and Rural Development
“We hope to be able to develop a compendium of practitioners’ best practices and to demonstrate and transfer such best practices.”
~~
Dr. Francis Asiedu, Manager, Technical Services, CARDI
“More business- savvy, cluster-driven and value chain-linked SMEs are indispensable to innovative, vibrant and growing food systems, rural communities and the agriculture economy.”
~~
Mr. John Calixte, EU (NAO) Representative in Saint Lucia, Regional Project on Green Intensive Farming Techniques

Practicing drip irrigation. (Photo: Ofer Berkovich)

Intensive Farming is characterized by a low fallow ratio and higher use of inputs such as capital and labour per unit land area. This is in contrast to traditional agriculture where the inputs per unit land are lower.
Intensive Animal Husbandry involves either large numbers of animals raised on limited land, usually confined animal feeding operations (CAFO) often referred to as factory farms, or managed intensive rotational grazing (MIRG). Both practices increase the yield of food and fiber per acre, as compared to traditional animal husbandry. In CAFO, feed is brought to the animals, which are seldom moved, while in MIRG, the animals are repeatedly moved to fresh forage.
The basic framework for GIFTs, whether open field or protected farming systems, includes three distinct, yet inextricably linked elements:

Technology – applicability of structures, requirements & processes


Management Systems – making optimum use of the technology


End Product – technology + management + a product designed to satisfy customers

Research to be conducted at the Ebenezer and SALCC Greenhouses:

The performance of the cooling systems in both structures re: temperature and humidity Management Systems – making optimum use of the technology


Soil and soilless culture systems


Organic production systems

Protected Agriculture & Irrigation Challenges:

Increased potential for some diseases in the greenhouse eg. Fungi


PAs not as effective at lower elevations; Perform better at higher elevations


To maximize air flow it is recommended that PA structures be placed in an east west direction however when winds are high crops tend to blow down


Limited root systems in PAs


Temperatures too high inside greenhouse


Heavy use of electricity to support PAs


Grow bags are expensive and not readily available


Build-up of salt in the use of drip irrigation causes a salinization effect which affects the growth of the plant


Need to irrigate crops mainly at night to reduce evaporation


Prohibitive cost of using both PAs and irrigation systems
Protected Agriculture Benefits:

Minimal effects due to change of season


Zero effect of rain


Minimal effects of wind


Possibility of cooling or warming crop as needed


Possibility of cultivating all year long


Relatively secure from production theft


Insect control


Light density control


Humidity control


Overall higher production capacity

Suggestions as to How to Engage More Youth in Agriculture:

Profile successful youth in agriculture and use them as ambassadors for agricultural entrepreneurship


Use ‘business incubators’ as a mechanism for developing entrepreneurship among youth


Provide ‘mentors’ or ‘shepherds’ to youth in agriculture


Promote agriculture as a business and career opportunity through youth oriented platforms


Retrofit abandoned structures for PA and use them to offer gainful employment for youth across the Region


Work to redefine the traditional image of the farmer

Additional Proposals for Action:

Establish a baseline as to where countries are with respect to the adaptation and adoption of various GIFTs


Gain a clear understanding of what is driving technologies – business/profits, lowering cost


Explore existing technologies and adapt them to prevailing circumstances – Do not reinvent the wheel


Give farmers a strong voice and encourage them to lead the process of change in the Region


Create a Road Map to guide the process moving forward.


Circulate Key First Steps


Provide opportunities for accessing GIFTs through hands-on and on-line training

Conclusion

As stated by Jervis Rowe in the technical planning meeting for the GIFT forum, “the Caribbean has all to gain; 365 days per year of good quality sunlight; excellent quality water; use of limited land space; use of marginal lands; proximity to major markets; and a regional food import bill that is in the billions of dollars. We need to use these (GIFT) technologies to bolster local production to the extent that we have surplus to export.”
It is for these reasons, plus the ever-present reality of the changing Caribbean climate, that the APP hosted the GIFT forum. They wanted to gather expert information and experience, to form solid conclusions, in order to create a viable and realistic action plan. As a result of the forum several conclusions were reached. First, that emphasis on the promotion and application of GIFTs must apply to both open field and protected agriculture production systems. Second, more research is needed to understand the full range of options in GIFTs in order to target investment to develop regional capacity in adopting and innovating current technologies. And third, that there exists excellent results in the use of GIFTs across the Caribbean, derived from trial and error and ‘home-grown’ innovations. These need to be identified, validated and used as the basis for expanding improved farming technologies.
To this end, commitment to support the continued development of farming and food production systems in Caribbean countries through wider application of GIFTs is critical. Particular consideration must be given to the need to:
(i)
support the conduct of an ‘inventory’ of all practitioners and operations in countries of the Caribbean that are utilising, adapting and innovating all forms of green intensive farming technologies, in order to harness the collective knowledge, innovation, research and successful experiences for the benefit of promoting structures, systems, technologies and management practices that work best in the regional context

(ii)
mobilize support for expanding the opportunities of ‘study visits and internships’, especially for young business men and women farmers, to be exposed to and obtain hands-on training and instruction in business operations utilising various GIFTs

(iii)
sensitize, educate and demonstrate to financial service providers, the viability of GIFTs in order to improve and enhance access to financing for investment and working capital to farmers and producers currently engaged, and desirous of starting, a farming business utilizing GIFTs

(iv)
support the research project proposed by CARDI and MMERC-UWI under the APP project, to construct an alternative greenhouse structure premised on lower-cost energy, recycling of materials for use in construction and availability of other construction material in countries of the Region

(v)
explore available information technology and tools to create and/or expand an existing platform, as appropriate, for the purposes of sharing data and documenting practical solutions, best practices and other knowledge gained from experiences and training, to advance the research in and enhance efficiency levels in greenhouse construction and management for protected agriculture and other green farming technologies, including use of indigenous flora and fauna for green pest and disease control

This series of project proceedings is produced under the Caribbean Action for the Agricultural Policy Programme (APP). The APP is funded under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) from the European Union and executed by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in collaboration with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the CARICOM Secretariat (CCS)/CARIFORUM.
This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union.

WP#5 8th Regional Planners Forum

Intra-ACP Agriculture Policy Programme (APP) Caribbean Action, with funding
by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF)
APP Proceedings No. 5 • October 2016

1

Intra-ACP Agriculture Policy Programme (APP)

APP Proceedings No. 5

Addressing Common CARIFORUM Challenges and Priorities at a Regional Planners’ Forum (RPF) on Agriculture

The 8th Regional Planners’ Forum:
Intra-Regional Agricultural Trade Facilitation & Agriculture Policy Orientation

Forum Contributors

This face-to-face Regional Planners’ Forum (RPF) was hosted under Component 1 of the APP. The 8th RPF included two separate meetings, one on Intra-Regional Agricultural Trade Facilitation, led by the CARICOM Secretariat (CCS) and one on Agricultural Policy Orientation, led by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). The RPF took place in Grenada, during 20-22 January 2016 as part of the APP Dialogue 4 Development (D4D) Forum.
CARICOM Community Secretariat

The RPF serves as a platform for dialogue among planners from Ministries of Agriculture (MOAs) and, depending on the topics addressed, will include representatives from development organizations across the Caribbean, as well as members of the private sector involved in agri-business throughout the Region.
Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA)
The Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA)

Objective & Overview
The challenges besieging agriculture in the Caribbean over the last four decades have been well documented and subject to dialogue at all levels, from politics to policy and advocacy to action. However, the need to strengthen platforms for continuous policy dialogue, relevant and timely information exchange and effective networking is vital in order to move forward with successful agricultural development in the Region. Support provided under the APP has allowed for this to happen through Regional Planners’ Forums (RPFs), which have been addressing a number of common issues on the regional agenda, as well as national priorities of Member States.
The 8th RPF consisted of two separate meetings in order to address two different topics:
1.
Intra-Regional Agricultural Trade Facilitation was aimed at revisiting international Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) agreements and procedures with a view to arriving at a consensus on the proper use of these measures in the trade of agricultural goods in the Region. Discussions also sought to identify opportunities and to lay out an action plan for meeting the regional demand for agro-processed products.

2.
Agricultural Policy Orientation was focused on defining policy priorities and targets, sharing best practices for policy implementation and improving approaches to properly value the true contribution of agriculture to economic development.
Caribbean Plant Health Directors (CPHD)
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)

Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ)
Along with representatives from Ministries of Agriculture, CARDI, and the private sector, including CaFAN, CABA and Red Stripe Limited

Proceedings

RPF on Intra-Regional Agricultural Trade Facilitation sessions included:
The Use and Misuse of SPS Measures in Intra-Regional Trade
Possible Opportunities for Supplying Regional Agricultural Inputs – As Indicated by Requests for the Suspension of the Common External Tariff (CET) and Derogation from the Rules of Origin
Transport Issues Relating to Intra-Regional Trade in Agriculture Products

The Use and Misuse of SPS Measures in Intra-Regional Trade
When it comes to Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures in CARICOM, the key issue is how to ensure a supply of ‘Safe’ food, adhering to strict health and safety regulations and agreements, without these being used as a protectionist mechanism. Currently, countries in the Region sometimes misuse SPS measures resulting in these SPS measures effectively restricting the entry of imported products and protecting their local markets.
It is true that there are challenges to be overcome with respect to facilitating intra-regional trade. Some of these include balancing commercial, economic and political realities with the need to preserve environmental and agricultural health, and the well-being of local agricultural producers. Another major challenge is the capacity to meet requirements for Risk Assessment (RA) and Pest Risk Analysis (PRA). Undertaking RAs and PRAs as individual countries pose serious limitations for some countries with limited resources and will require a concerted effort to arrive at regional harmonized procedures. These procedures will need to be built on solid infrastructure and supported by good data, finance and communication systems.
There is a great need however, to move forward in resolving these challenges in order to facilitate intra-regional trade and in turn bolster regional agriculture. With a regional annual food import bill of over $US 5 billion dollars annually, much opportunity is being lost due to a lack of trade between CARIFORUM countries. Agreement on harmonized protocols, rules and processes between Member States is a must if they are to succeed in increasing trade.
All CARICOM Member States are members of the WTO and therefore have agreed to comply with SPS regulations, including regulations for the movement of goods within the Region. Several training sessions designed to enhance awareness and capacity for compliance have been undertaken at regional, sub-regional and national levels in CARICOM. However, there is still a clear lack of infrastructure available to support the effective implementation of these measures. To execute the SPS mandate as it was intended, each of the member states must effectively leverage their resources. They must also commit to working together through the honest and timely exchange of information, deliver on basic reporting obligations of the Agreements, abide by national and regional requirements, be proactive through Market access proposals, and provide timely communications and consistency in participation at the regional level.
Amidst the challenges of achieving such Regional coordination, The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States ‘Free Circulation of Goods Regime’ offers a possible model as it relates to collectively administering border control and SPS for the wider Region. Free Circulation of Goods within the Economic Union is based on the principle that border control intervention of any nature is primarily done at first port of entry into the Region and goods moving between the OECS Member States are not required to face physical, fiscal and technical requirements at each port of entry.
Knowledge Sharing Outcomes:
It was reiterated that the Region does already have Agreements governing the movement of goods and it is within the framework of those Agreements that the Region should be able to decide on the standards and conditions for regional inspection. There was consensus amongst forum participants about the need to find ways to genuinely facilitate trade by addressing the real issues, and not the distraction of the barrier. This needs to include systems that ensure the uniform application of the measures and development of a credible source for risk-related information, especially in the area of pests that is accessible to all CARICOM countries.
Overall, it was agreed that a major challenge in the area of balancing regional SPS regulations with intra-regional trade is building trust and confidence into the system. A mechanism is needed to honestly go back to each country and encourage them to work together. While Risk Assessment (RA) is an obligation under the WTO, it does not have to be an elaborate, onerous procedure that, by default, acts as a barrier. The sharing of RA information provides a repository for countries which will enable a judgement on what measure is required for reasonable decision making on access to entry. CAHFSA is the primary regional agency mandated to support capacity building on SPS matters, with support from the CARICOM Secretariat, CARDI and international agencies such as FAO and IICA.

Challenges to Facilitating Regional Trade in light of SPS:

Balancing the commercial demands for trade and economic activity while protecting the sector and environment


Balancing the economic and political realities of protecting local agricultural producers while ensuring a supply of affordable food and adherence to regional and international trade obligations


Lack of financial, human, technical and infrastructure resources to support both intra-regional trade and SPS measures


Fear of allowing pest or disease to enter a country which leads to a zero tolerance approach and delay actions
Expected Outcomes of the OECS Free Circulation of Goods Regime:

Increased market size and market opportunities


Elimination of “double duty” on goods


Elimination of paper-driven processes


Potential for increased intra-regional trade


Potential for improved efficiency of Port Operations


Harmonization of regional policies


Enhanced inter agency collaboration at national and regional levels


Uniformity of regional standards and procedures


Improved interconnectivity and capacity to exchange information

Concerns Regarding the Use and Misuse of the Suspension and Derogation process:

Rationale for suspensions is needed to protect consumers and producers from having to pay inflated prices for products when regional products are not available


Unpredictability brought on by suspensions sends negative signals to regional producers; the CET is meant to provide producers with an incentive to increase production and intra-regional trade


Some producers will overstate their requirements for materials and therefore approval for suspensions are given to import if it is perceived that Members cannot supply enough


Provisions are too specific and instead should allow for substitutions of group products which then facilitates the protection and incentive to increase production and intra-regional trade
Providing a Way Forward for Agro-Processing in the Caribbean:

MOAs to ensure and enable value-chain development in the commodities by supporting public-private collaboration


Increase R&D spending in agro-processing and its many elements


Provide commodity producer groups with research funding


Government assistance for maintaining primary production to support market demands and be globally competitive


Government support to foster agro-processing such as removal of VAT on required equipment, tax credits, etc.


Make full use of intellectual capacity to improve primary production, profitability and competitiveness


Create national agro-processing plans


Creation of an enabling environment for the private sector through public policy

Possible Opportunities for Supplying Regional Agricultural Inputs – As Indicated by Requests for the Suspension of the Common External Tariff (CET) and Derogation from the Rules of Origin
The Common External Tariff (CET) is generally introduced when a group of countries form a Customs Union. Normally, under CETs, the same customs duties, import quotas, preferences or other non-tariff barriers to trade apply to all goods entering the area, regardless of which country in the area they are entering.
In the Caribbean, a list of regionally-produced agricultural products were afforded a CET rate of 40%. Others, though produced regionally (e.g. rice), received lower rates based mainly on cost-of-living considerations. However, application of the CET within the Region is not always common. Some Member States apply different rates of tariffs for the same agricultural product.
Article 83 of the Treaty of Chaguaramas provides for a suspension of the CET, for either a reduced or zero rate in situations where regional production/supply is not adequate or sufficient to meet regional demand. Member States can also exempt certain products from the CET based on a range of purposes, one being “materials for use in an approved industry”, under the Conditional Duty Exemptions Regime.
However, not all goods qualify for such special treatment. A number of regionally produced agricultural products have been listed as ineligible for Conditional Duty Exemptions. Suspension of duty for those products must be approved by COTED. Under Article 84 on Rules of Origin, for a product traded within the Region to receive duty-free treatment, it must satisfy certain criteria. If it can be shown that there is an absence or shortage of raw materials ‘originating’ from the Region, then COTED can grant a certificate allowing the firm to import the same from extra-regional suppliers.
Many of the products for which suspensions are being requested are inputs into food processing. In some cases, the primary source of these inputs is local farms/producers. However, the form in which these are produced or supplied may not necessarily be in the semi-processed form required by food processors. This also drives the demand for suspension of the CET and hence, reduces opportunities for intra-regional trade. This could suggest either a lack of agro-processing capacity in the Region to transform primary products into intermediate raw materials, a lack of supply capacity at the primary production level to attract viable investment in processing capacity, or both.
Given past experiences with the requests for suspension and derogation, and the several concerns about their use and possible misuse, such requests are now copied to the Member States’ Ministries of Agriculture. This allows for some policing of the process.
With respect to opportunities for supplying regional agricultural inputs, initial suggestions include complementing traditional activities with initiatives that include processing and product transformation. To effectively manage the process, reliable data on Caribbean agro-processing requirements, information systems and coordinating mechanisms will be needed to create intelligence for decision making, as well as platforms (virtual and physical) that foster buyer and seller interaction and promote investment in the agro-processing sector.
Knowledge Sharing Outcomes:
Following the presentation on CETs in the Caribbean, private sector stakeholders stated that price, consistency and quality were their main concerns when obtaining inputs. They are willing to invest in primary production when the value proposition is clear from the beginning. However, they expressed a need for improvement to the Policy environment in order to build the trust of, and relationship with the private sector.
Also, as noted by one private sector participant, there is need to examine the agriculture sector plan of each country. This action may reveal that agro-processing is not in any national plan, so there is a gap between production and manufacturing which is filled by imports. Until and unless this gap is closed by national agro-processing development plans, imports will continue. There must also be a public-private sector investment plan. In general, the private sector is not interested in investing in producers or processing development because it is easier to import the inputs for agro-processing then to invest.

Current Challenges in the Transportation of Agricultural Produce in the Caribbean:

No direct air transportation for agricultural produce to many Caribbean countries


A small network of shippers for agricultural produce requires more support


Directional flow of cargo is not two-way


Prohibitive costs for regional transportation of agricultural produce


Poor infrastructure, services and institutional providers at ports


Tourism and the integration of the Community are also dependent on transportation

Transport Issues Relating to Intra-Regional Trade in Agriculture Products
Transportation for trading in agricultural products has been a longstanding problem in the Caribbean for a number of reasons, including high costs, port logistics and adequacy of available vessels. In addition to the COTED and Transportation Commission, which have been mandated to find solutions, the APP, is also conducting a study to examine the possibility of connecting the main shipping links in the Region and facilitating the availability of shipping options for exporters and access to goods for shippers.
Overall, the findings of the APP study will provide input for creating efficient and effective transportation policy and procedures. They will identify three possible transportation corridors in the Region tied to export-import bases and structured based on the anticipated volumes of goods. The findings of the study will also establish the potential for, and the base of, an inventory for the registration of traders, their products and production volumes, as well as regional shippers, brokers and export-import operators. This inventory will also be linked to the development of an ICT platform aimed at enhancing access to information on, and management of, an efficient regional freight logistics system. To foster continued collaboration among key stakeholders, the study will propose options for the creation of a collaborative communication system between agricultural producers, exporters and transport and logistics companies for the planning and negotiation of required services.
Knowledge Sharing Outcomes:
During discussions which followed the presentation, it was concluded that transportation solutions must also address SPS requirements which satisfy all countries within the Region. SPS inspectors and the other requisite personnel must be in place at ports which will send and receive agricultural goods. Additionally, risk management options must be included which address a variety of issues such as terrorism and pests. Also, a fair system of protocols for denying entry and handling complaints must be established .

RPF on Agricultural Policy Orientation sessions included:
International Trends and Issues Influencing National Priorities and Policy Decisions
Measuring the True Contribution of Agriculture
Strengthening Policy & Planning Approaches, Tools, Processes Interactive Sessions – Training

Agricultural Policy Orientation and the 2020 Policy Horizon
Policy and strategy must be part of a long-term framework against which actions are planned. Policies must also be guided by a national consensus, led by a strong planning unit and resistant to political persuasions and influences. When these factors are addressed, it becomes clear to the general public that processes are in place to ensure transparency and create an environment for success.
Planners must understand what they are planning for, the process of planning and how they can move the process forward to operation. Resources are often limited so planners need to be efficient in the use of those resources to deliver on expectations of stakeholders and meet the needs of intended beneficiaries. To make the most of resources in the Caribbean, those involved in agricultural development initiatives must constructively share their capacities going forward.
In order to do that, planners from MOAs across the Caribbean must interact and discuss what they are doing on a daily basis; what processes, in their experience, are efficient; and what areas could be supported by existing institutions through the sharing of successful policy responses and lessons learned. This RPF provided the opportunity to carry out those discussions.
International Trends and Issues Influencing National Priorities and Policy Decisions
According to Dr. Joaquin Arias of IICA, the best source of sustainable growth in agriculture is through productivity. Though the export sector for agriculture has slowed in the last few years, there is an opportunity in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) to grow intra-regional trade. However, there are some situations which need to be watched that could hinder the growth of LAC agriculture. New competition from Asia and Africa in coffee, cassava and cocoa, and new and emerging trade agreements must be considered with respect to their impact on those countries which are not signatories.
In light of these factors, there must be a change in the approach to policy design to remain competitive and planners and producers must be innovative in terms of productivity and progress. Several global trends in policy need to be considered:
1.
More market oriented policies in which governments still provide support, but the support is less commodity-oriented and driven more by the individual farm unit. Demand driven policies are being adopted based on the farmers’ needs. An example would be the many insurance tools that farmers can choose from to protect against different catastrophes, challenges, prices etc.

2.
A move towards risk management policies, which identify risk, prepare the sector for the risk and then prepare the sector to respond to the risk. Risk transfer, such as insurance, and then response and reconstruction follow. The types of insurance are based on indices such as yield, price, income, profit margin, shallow loss and catastrophe.

3.
The creation of policy to support market development and regional integration. Regional trade shortens the supply chain and provides farmers with more value, and inclusive value–added agriculture gives the farmer more control and participation.

4.
Policies for the sustainable management of natural resources, which provide incentives for sustainable practices such as land retirement, land easement, use of environmental services, cross compliance, avoidance of input subsidies, introduction of private investments, technology transfer, productive assets and more.
One of the persistent problems in policy across the Caribbean is the limited involvement of the private sector, which views the shift in government as shifts in policy. The challenge and benefit is to involve all the stakeholder groups in the consultative process, including the private sector. It is also important to have national and regional policies that are complimentary to ensure that they don’t create policy conflicts and compete for limited resources.
Monitoring and Evaluation is another important element of the policy environment. It is essential to accountability. Actions taken and instruments used to implement policies must be monitored and measured to see if they are in fact bringing benefit to the stakeholders. Unfortunately, in many countries policy instruments are not being evaluated for efficacy.
Knowledge Sharing Outcomes:
As a result of this session it became clear that there are some key actions that need to be taken by planners in the Caribbean.
Planners:

need to track the development of policy trends across the globe, recognizing that national and regional policies for agriculture in the Caribbean don’t just operate in a vacuum, but rather are affected by global trends and actions.


must be prepared for a mix of policies depending on the context, including market-oriented and commodity-driven policies, to see if they are viable and practical. A balance also needs to be struck between market-driven policies and national food security objectives.


need to build risk management into policies and plans from the inception and must position policy to respond to key risks, including climate change, environ­mental degradation and natural hazards, through comprehensive agricultural risk management within an overall resilience framework.
Measuring the True Contribution of Agriculture
The traditional measure of the contribution of agriculture in the Caribbean does not consider many important factors. It does not look at agri-business value-added beyond the farm gate, the economic activities in forward linkages, those in backward linkages and the changes in income emanating from the agriculture/agribusiness sector. Not only that, but beyond the usual input-output measurement, the sector also contributes to socio-economic development, poverty reduction, food security, management of biodiversity and environmental sustainability.
The concept of expanded agriculture means that we add to the figures of primary agriculture (including forestry and fisheries) all the other agriculture business related activities. It is important to understand that in agriculture based economies, for every US $1 generated in the primary sector, US $0.56 cents is generated in the agribusiness sector.
Forward and backward linkages also need to be considered. For example, in the case forward linkages in Jamaica, for each dollar produced, US $0.09 cents goes to hotels and restaurants, US $0.16 cents go to the processed food sector to add value and 55% goes to fresh consumption (value adding through packaging). Backward linkages reflect what the farms demand. The primary agriculture sector purchases services or products from the agro-industry at US $0.08 cents, marketing services at US $0.27 cents and labour at US $0.14 cents. So, when the forward and backward linkages are summed we are able to determine the true contribution of the agriculture sector.
As a Region on the whole, and as individual countries, we must extract data to show the real contribution of the sector, and the multiplier effect (forward and backward linkages), to plan for and mitigate risks and development actions. For example, a disruption in the supply of primary agriculture will affect specific forward linkages which contribute to not only to the GDP, but development goals such as infrastructure in agro-processing. These relationships need to be understood to properly plan for agriculture development in the Region.
Knowledge Sharing Outcomes:
Post presentation, it was concluded that statistical data in countries must be distilled to calculate the true contribution of agriculture. Currently, several Caribbean countries may not have the data disaggregated at the level required to undertaken analysis or, the data may exist but have restricted access. The Region must engage Foresight or Prospective Analysis, for a sector or commodity, to determine the true contribution of the agriculture sector.
Strengthening Policy & Planning Approaches, Tools, Processes: Interactive Sessions
In the past, national development plans were tied to administrations of governments. They were typically five year, short-term plans which did not allow sufficient time to achieve their often significant but worthwhile goals. Long-term plans allow for these achievements.
The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) has instituted its own process for Jamaica’s ‘Vision2030 National Development Plan’. They have advanced significantly in the process to develop their first long-term plan which is meant to bring Jamaica to developed country status by 2030. Defining what ‘developed country status for Jamaica by 2030’ meant was achieved through wide national consultation. The definition involves and reflects aspects which are uniquely Jamaican, such as culture and the creative industries, quality of life, nutrition, and environmental justice, to mention a few.
With ‘Vision 2030’ for Jamaica, a new paradigm was introduced, placing the country on a path to sustainable development and growth. The steps taken to develop this national plan could be applied for developing other national and sectoral plans across CARIFORUM Member States.
Knowledge Sharing Outcomes:
As a result of the information shared about the ‘Vision 2030’ plan, the forum was led to reflect on the viability and validity of current approaches and processes to develop policy at the commodity-industry, thematic, stakeholder and national/regional levels. They were advised of the importance of examining the performance of these approaches against best practices, in particular the time, effort and resources being invested in specific commodity-based policies.
To date the APP has provided policy support to Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Grenada and Dominica. The support process will soon start in Suriname, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent, St. Kitts, Guyana and Haiti, with Barbados and Trinidad also asking for support. It was determined that issues raised at this forum must be brought to bear in the creation of these new policies and plans.

Current Approved Regional Policies in the phase of defining the implementation process and understanding how we can align these at a country level:

CARICOM Agriculture Policy


Regional Food and Nutrition Policy


The Fisheries Policy

Global Policy Trends:

Market Oriented Policies


Risk Management Policies


Market Development and Regional Integration Policies


Sustainable Management of Natural Resources Policies

Factors in Developing ‘Vision 2030 Jamaica’:

A long-term planning horizon with strategic focus that is not partisan or political


Bi-partisan support


Well-defined, continuous stakeholder engagement and involvement was at a very high level


Involvement of youth and children


A well-defined implementation framework using 3-year cycle Results Based Management process


A robust M&E framework which ensures the appraisal process allows for corrective action


Incorporating principles of sustainability


Alignment with key national and international frameworks


Transparency and accountability, through performance reporting, with a focus on governance and limited political interference


Allowance for some political input, including, the opposition, to reflect the aspirations of the people

Conclusion

RPFs play a crucial role in the development of agriculture in the Caribbean, The participation of member states is important as each brings their technical knowledge, the policy orientation of their country and their understanding on how that relates to regional structures and processes. The hope through these forums is to achieve coherent outcomes that will help revitalize the agriculture sector.
Planners must deal with the demands of the farming population, the needs of individual countries, the desire to foster intra-regional trade and the determination of where the Sector must be heading based on the global arena. It is no small task.
Planners must determine, the main issues for the sector in individual states, and even at the community level, to avoid the trap of Policy Planning exercises being just academic or political processes. They must ask and understand at what level policy must be discussed, create enabling environments, and determine the most appropriate drivers, standards and tools to monitor and measure impact of those policies.
Successful development planning is the result of strong and independent institutional and governance systems, and an understanding of what the country is planning for. A National Development Plan is not an Administration’s plan, but a plan for the country or sector. In agriculture in the Caribbean, the focus of individual national plans must be rooted in a regional plan with an integration focus that allows for change. Conversely, the regional plan must introduce guidelines, and respect the will of national planners to address national matters, while scoping the regional agendas for future synergies, using best practices.
The Jamaica process for the development of the National Plan can be described as a good practice in the Caribbean, and it should be received how it was intended – to illustrate the benefits of a well-defined and managed process of national integrated planning. Not all CARICOM countries may have the institutional governance or political capacity to emulate this approach, but some aspects of it can be incorporated into the policy and planning process for agriculture.
Going forward, the continuation of the Regional Planners’ Forums will be a key element in achieving these lofty, yet attainable expectations.

This series of project proceedings is produced under the Caribbean Action for the Agricultural Policy Programme (APP). The APP is funded under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) from the European Union and executed by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in collaboration with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the CARICOM Secretariat (CCS)/CARIFORUM.
This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union.

WP#7 Agri-Institutions Cluster (1)

Intra-ACP Agriculture Policy Programme (APP) Caribbean Action, with funding
by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF)
1

APP Proceedings No. 7 • November 2016

Intra-ACP Agriculture Policy Programme (APP)

APP Proceedings No. 7

Keeping the Momentum – Sustaining Institutional Collaboration for Agriculture Initiatives in the Caribbean

Agriculture Food & Nutrition Cluster (AFNC)
Meetings 11 through 15

Meeting Contributors

Agriculture Food and Nutrition Cluster (AFNC) meetings were hosted under Component 1 of the APP, led by the CARICOM Secretariat (CCS). Meetings took place over the period of June 2015 to January 2016. Meetings 11 through 14 took place in Trinidad & Tobago, and many joined virtually, however meeting 15 was face-to-face and took place at the Radisson Grand Anse, Grenada.

Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA)
About the AFNC
The genesis of the Agriculture Food and Nutrition Cluster (AFNC) is a result of a mandate by the Secretary General of CARICOM for CARICOM agencies to harmonize work programmes and engage in more collaboration.
Initially, membership of the AFNC comprised CARDI (Chair), CARPHA, CCS, CDEMA, CRFM, CXC, CARICOM IMPACS, UG, UWI and CCCCC. In 2013, Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) mandated institutions engaged in agricultural development in the Region, to harmonize their work activity and maximize the use of the limited resources. These agencies included IICA, FAO, CABA, CaFAN, CDB and the OECS Secretariat. Since many of the institutions comprising this COTED mandated grouping were not regional institutions and did not initially comprise the group established by the mandate of the Secretary General, all agencies were subsumed under the AFNC.
The current AFNC fulfils its mandate by collectively supporting and promoting the policies, strategies and programmes that are approved by the COTED and Heads of Government.
The work of the Cluster is dominated by a core group of institutions whose work is primarily related to agriculture. However, ongoing efforts are underway to ensure that other institutions are engaged and fully contributing.
In addition, Regional Commodity Working Groups were established in 2014 under the AFNC. They recommended and agreed upon a regional focus for four priority commodities, namely Roots and Tubers, Herbs and Spices, Small Ruminants and Fisheries.
Despite its short life, the AFNC has managed to establish itself, with support from the APP, as a mechanism that will eliminate many overlaps in institutional activities, as well as deliberate over challenges plaguing the sector. The Cluster will continue to expand its activities and engage all its members in the collaborative process.

Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency
Caribbean Public Health Agency
Caribbean Development Bank

Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology

Along with regular members: CCS,
CARDI (Chair), IICA, FAO, CFRM, CAFAN, CABA, CCCC, UWI and OECS

Proceedings

AFNC agendas included:
Matters Arising:
National Agriculture Plans, Policies and Strategies
Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) as Lead Player in Addressing Finance for Agriculture
Joint Action on Para-Veterinary Training
CARICOM Advisory Committee on Food and Nutrition Security (FNS)
Proposed Joint COTED/COHSOD Meeting on Childhood Obesity
Report on Paris Climate Change Conference and Implications for Regional Agriculture
COTED – Support for Areas of Focus and Proposed Changes in Strategy, Policy or Programmes
Reports by Thematic Group
Report on Priority Commodity Groups

Matters Arising and Outstanding Actions
National Agriculture Plans, Policies and Strategies
At each of the AFNC meetings, 11 through 15, regular reports were made on the progress of national sector plans for agriculture. The status for each country was discussed to ensure that they were properly moving through the necessary phases such as inception reports, proposals, Terms of Reference (ToR), the engagement of consultants, pre-plan studies, and reports in progress and complete.
Key Decisions:
The AFNC will continue to monitor the progress of national agriculture plans and address any delays or concerns that arise.
Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) as Lead Player in Addressing Finance for Agriculture
Obtaining financing for agricultural enterprises is one of the greatest challenges for producers and agri-business owners in the Caribbean. Action to tackle this challenge needs to be spearheaded by an assigned entity. Discussions at the AFNC meetings included suggestions that the Thematic Group (TG) on Business Development lead the way however, the CDB is also doing good work in this area. Financing has been provided by the CDB to development banks around the Region to assist in financing for agriculture. In addition, five more lines of credit are to be developed for agriculture over the next year.
Key Decisions:
The AFNC directed the CCS to continue to work with the BD TG and CDB on this matter.
Joint Action on Para-Veterinary Training
It was generally agreed amongst AFNC members that there is a deficiency in para-veterinary training in the Caribbean. Members of the AFNC supported action to address this need. It was noted that the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) has recently commenced a programme in this area and, University of West Indies’ (UWI) School of Veterinary Medicine has submitted a proposal to the APP for the same.
At the AFNC meetings, it was suggested that UWI dialogue with UTT on the matter in light of the limited market. A recommendation was also made to work with the Chief Veterinary Officers (CVO) to address any shortcomings that there might be in the UTT curriculum in meeting the requirements of the Region.
In the same discussion it was noted that there is an issue of accreditation for veterinarians trained in Cuba to operate in the Region. There was a suggestion that there should be collaboration with UWI and the Cuban schools to address the accreditation issue prior to graduation however, each country may have its own certification requirements so this exercise may be pointless.
Key Decisions:
The AFNC decided that it will communicate with the Dean of UWI on the need to work with UTT on the possibility of collaboration between the two entities on the para-veterinary training programme. This item was then deferred to CCS, UWI and the Research and Human Resources development Thematic Group. Also, the AFNC agreed that there is no further need to address the issue of accreditation of veterinarians trained in Cuba given that each country possessed its own mechanism for accrediting veterinarians.
CARICOM Advisory Committee on Food and Nutrition Security (FNS)
The FAO proposed a CARICOM Advisory Committee on FNS which would be focused on supporting and monitoring the implementation of the Regional Food and Nutrition Security Policy (RFNSP). After listening to initial concerns of the AFNC, the FAO submitted a revised proposal to eliminate any elements of overlap. It was suggested that the committee be made up of no more than ten members, with a minimum of three face-to-face meetings annually, and that meeting notes would be retained by the AFNC.
Several members of the AFNC expressed their support for the proposal and encouraged other members of the meeting to endorse it however, concern was still expressed by some who queried the value of establishing this committee given the limited resources to support existing mechanisms and entities. It was also suggested that the national plans should be used to incorporate the necessary elements of the RFNSP and therefore a separate committee should not be required.
In response to that argument, it was noted that there is a need for a regional plan, not just the national plans, and that this FNS committee could play a key role in supporting national efforts that lead to a regional plan. The necessity of including additional stakeholders from agricultural health, trade and the private sector in the committee was also strongly encouraged.
Key Decisions:
After some debate, the decision was made to support the FAO proposal for a CARICOM Advisory Committee on FNS. It was decided that UWI and CARDI would share the responsibility for representation from the research community and share the meeting minutes with each other when one of the organizations was not present. It was also agreed that the AFNC would review the proposal from CABA to involve major players from the private sector.
Proposed Joint COTED/COHSOD Meeting on Childhood Obesity
Discussions with CARPHA at the AFNC highlighted their continued efforts to pursue a meeting on childhood obesity which will present a six point plan for moving ahead. CARPHA also expressed its gratitude for the support of CARDI in the area of advocacy related to combatting non-communicable diseases.
Key Decisions:
CARPHA was encouraged to continue to pursue these initiatives.
Report on Paris Climate Change Conference and Implications for Regional Agriculture
Food Security is a key consideration under the Paris Agreement but increasingly, forests are being converted to agriculture production across the globe and this poses a quandary for many countries. They need to decide if their focus is on forest conservation or increasing agricultural production. Countries also face the dilemma of water shortages for crops versus water conservation. It was suggested that the best way to address these issues is through mitigation projects.
Current work under the Thematic Group for Climate Change, Natural Resource Management and Disaster Risk Management focuses on adaptation however, they have indicated that there are opportunities to look at mitigation.
Key Decisions:
At the AFNC it was decided that the issue of renewable energy and the development of proposals for funding will be handled by the Thematic Group for Climate Change, Natural Resource Management and Disaster Risk Management, and presented to the Cluster for approval and endorsement.
COTED – Support for Areas of Focus and Proposed Changes in Strategy, Policy or Programmes
With the exception of Belize and Dominica, the economic data indicate a downward trend in the contribution of agriculture to Member States the Region. Notwithstanding, it is generally agreed that agriculture has a wider contribution to the economy than is often captured in the macro-economic data. As such, it was suggested that in moving forward, the sector needs to be more productive and organized. Key elements required for strengthening the industry in these areas would be improved harmonization of legislation, stronger conglomeration of producers, product specialization by member states, export development to increase competitiveness and a properly functioning CARICOM Single Market Economy (CSME).
After the presentation, the AFNC deliberated over the need to have the private sector play a greater role in driving the sector, as well as the need to involve Heads of State in discussions with key agribusiness players in the Region. It was also suggested that the Cluster put together a document identifying opportunities and benefits to be gained from further investment in the agriculture sector, taking into consideration priority commodities. These commodities were originally selected by COTED and then adopted by the Cluster. They were selected because they have a significant impact on economic development and food and nutrition security and there is an existing focus on these commodities by agencies in the Region.
As was noted, there may be a need to broaden the focus to include other commodities such as coconut and poultry. It was indicated that the Business Development TG is looking at this possibility and that there will be a project to address this subject. The project will examine the competitive environment in which the commodities operate. Specifically, there is need for a review of the Common External Tariff (CET) to address the competitive position of regional products. Also, there is a need to focus on the large impact commodities that can transform economies and livelihoods. An appropriate policy framework is needed that can facilitate increased growth of the ‘big ticket’ commodities. With the support of the Cluster, CARDI indicated that they would request a revised focus on commodities by the substantive COTED.
The Cluster also recognized the need to arrive at a strategy that would include both small and large sized players, and affirmed that the proposal to the lead Head of State would allow engagement of the private sector and a commitment to creating an environment that facilitates the growth.
It was also stressed that there should be efforts aimed at enhancing intra-regional trade. There are trade agreements and rules to regulate trade, as well as safeguard human and animal health, and as such they should all be used to enhance intra-regional trade. However, caution was given against abusing regulations and safeguards to further the regional interests. It was noted that to enhance trade within the region, there should be an aggressive push towards harmonization of regulations. All parties should agree to the same protocols and regulations throughout the CSME.
Key Decisions:
After much discussion, it was decided that the Head of State with lead responsibility for agriculture in each country should be invited to meet with key regional private sector players in order to encourage increased involvement of the large scale private sector in the agriculture industry. Three actions have been identified in order to facilitate this process.
Firstly, there needs to be an effort to capture developments currently being undertaken on the national level. As such, Ministers of Agriculture should meet with key national private sector players in their respective countries. This is required so that the Ministers will be better prepared to contribute to the eventual discussion with the Head of State.
Secondly, there should be the preparation of a focus paper on what is being done in the Region. The paper would highlight key successes achieved by agencies, as well as opportunities for the private sector. Input from national players would also be encouraged. The Chair would lead the coordination of the exercise with the APP to explore the possibility of providing resources to recruit a consultant to prepare the paper.
Thirdly, the Head of State with lead responsibility for Agriculture will be asked to meet with Ministers of Agriculture to arrive at a harmonized position on engaging the private sector to facilitate increased economic development.
Reports by Thematic Group (TG)
The efforts of the AFNC and the TGs are to be aimed at addressing production and trade targets relative to regional policy.
And, the Cluster has been given the mandate of assessing the performance of the TGs. The TGs have committed to scheduling regular meetings, including some which are face-to-face, and strengthening monitoring and evaluation (M&E).
The Research and Human Resource Development, Climate Change and Business Development TGs have fully embraced the Performance Matrix which was developed by CCS. They have also expressed a desire that the information that is put into the tool be included in a searchable database for more practical use and, that a narrower focus be applied to collecting information, which is currently fairly voluminous.
During this period, the Climate Change and Natural Hazards TG carried out a large amount of technical work. The AFNC approved proposals from them to address rain water harvesting and the conduct of disaster risk management plans. Also during this time, the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) joined the Research and Human Resources Development TG.
CARDI reminded the AFNC that the TG interactions should ensure that there is no duplication of efforts. It was noted that at present, there is joint action on the development of harmonized agricultural health and food safety legislation for the Region by the CAHFSA, and for the OECS by the OECS Secretariat. It was advised that regional standards needed to be developed prior to the sub-regional standards in order to ensure appropriate harmonization and consistency. It was further advised that CAHFSA was appropriately staffed and would lead the TG for Agricultural Health and Food Safety.
Key Decisions:
During the meeting TGs were reminded to provide advanced notice of their face-to-face meetings to facilitate appropriate budget preparations. They were also informed of the requirement to complete a work plan for 2016, which included targets and indicators to allow for M&E. It was also agreed by the Cluster that CAHFSA would manage the work of the TG for Agricultural Health and Food Safety.
Report on Priority Commodity Groups (CG)
Four different commodity groups have been centered out for focus in the Caribbean, Herbs and Spices, Cassava, Small Ruminants and Fisheries. Reports on each of these groups were presented at the AFNC meetings.
Current activity in Herbs and Spices includes a proposal from CABA aimed at crafting a policy for the establishment of a business/export cluster for this commodity. The approach would entail mobilizing key players in the private sector to determine their specific requirements and exploring the capacity of producers. These exercises would then lead to a trade cluster initiation workshop to foster trade relations, with a major focus on exports. The output of the exercises would then require the identification of the requisite policies for success of the trade cluster relationships. The assistance of the CCS would be required to identify consultants to undertake these exercises. Resources are being sought from various sources to support this proposal.
Many things are also going on in the area of developing Cassava in the Region. In Jamaica, cassava is being used for beer production and a cassava processing (beer) factory has been opened. At the first meeting of the Cassava CG, the Ambassador of Cuba offered the support of the Cuban government to develop the industry. There is an on-going FAO funded cassava project which is being supported by CARDI in Guyana in collaboration with the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), and many promotional events are taking place around the Region, related in particular to bread production demonstrations. Additionally, a cassava policy document has been created and the draft version is under review by various stakeholders.
The AFNC was delivered a presentation on the development of the cassava industry as driven by the Cassava Task Force. It was indicated that adopting a regional approach to industry development had posed a challenge. As such, the focus was on attaining national targets. In addition, there was a critical recognition that farmers had to improve their yields. Primary action steps for the development process were identified. These entailed upgrading existing cassava products, enhancing the overall value chain, development of new products and product markets. Development would also focus heavily on import substitution, including the production of bakery products utilizing cassava infused mash, which replaces up to 40 percent wheat flour.
Under the APP, there was recently a fact finding exercise on Small Ruminants. Ten countries identified Small Ruminants as a priority commodity for development, with breeding being the primary challenge. The study also showed however, that there appeared to be no clear framework for addressing this challenge.
Current work under the Small Ruminants CG is aimed at addressing reductions in extra regional imports into the region, with a major focus on breeding and production. However, stakeholders’ experience with purchasing and transportation of animals across the region to increase animal numbers has been disheartening. As such, efforts will be aimed at sourcing technology to address breeding constraints.

Much of the development work for the industry will take place through IICA, a collaboration with Kazakhstan and a New Zealand funded programme. For the New Zealand programme, Jamaica will be the primary country of focus, with other beneficiary countries being St. Lucia, Dominica, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda and Guyana. The objective of this programmes is to attain a ten percent reduction in regional imports within a set time frame. The proposal to work with Kazakhstan is for funding a breeding and fattening programme in four countries.
Though progress is being made, members of the Cluster expressed their concern about a limited coordination of industry development and the lack of research in feeding and the transport of the animals to various markets.
In the fisheries industry there are no regional management agencies, but different bodies are working on management plans for different fish species. The CFRM however, addresses all fish species. They are currently working on work plan outputs and objectives that promote a value chain approach to development of the sector, as well as the development of investment profiles.
The CFRM acknowledges that the industry is facing several challenges to its development but they see that it has great strategic value. They are currently involved in initiatives to address legislation, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, capacity building and organizational strengths and weaknesses in the sector.
Key Decisions:
After the discussions on each commodity, it was determined that all of the commodities need to create their own industry development plan and that those plans should be based on the industry development model for cassava which was presented by the FAO and led by the Cassava Task Force. It was also indicated that all of the CGs must complete performance matrices for M&E purposes.

Acronyms for past and present Members of the AFNC:

CARDI – The Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute


CARPHA – The Caribbean Public Health Agency


CCS – The CARICOM Secretariat


CDEMA – the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency


CFRM – The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism


CXC – The Caribbean Examination Council


CARICOM IMPACS – The CARICOM Implementing Agency for Crime and Security


UG – University of Guyana


UWI – University of West Indies


CCCCC – The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre


IICA – Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture


FAO – Food and Agriculture Organization


CABA – The Caribbean Agribusiness Association


CaFAN – The Caribbean Farmers Network


CDB – The Caribbean Development Bank


OECS – The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States
Countries participating in the creation of National Agricultural Plans, Policies or Strategies under the APP:

Dominica


Grenada


Suriname


Jamaica


St. Kitts and Nevis


Dominican Republic


Saint Lucia


St. Vincent and the Grenadines


Haiti


Guyana
Key Expectations for AFNC Meetings as Outlined by Cluster Members:

Improved alignment of projects and reduction of overlaps


Collective achievement of goals


Sense of accountability and performance


Improved focus on monitoring and evaluation


Commitment to behavior change


Establishment of food and nutrition security at the core of deliberations


Review of the model for development, with the private sector taking the lead with public sector support


Integrated approach for fisheries and agriculture development


Improved understanding of the relationship between the Cluster, the Thematic Groups (TGs) and the priority Commodity Groups (CGs)


Improved information sharing


Identification of how the Paris Agreement on Climate Change affects agriculture and how agencies will attain the mandate


Understanding of the role of agencies such as CIMH, CAHFSA, and UWI in the overall development process being led by the Cluster


Appreciation of import substitution as an opportunity


Increased focus on mainstream agriculture
Additional suggestions from the AFNC for strengthening Caribbean Agriculture:

Review opportunities for improved functioning of regional trade infrastructure


Explore increased information generation, collection and sharing with the aim of facilitating investments


Increase harmonization of regulations and standards


Documentation of successes


Revisit regional policies and plans since they may have some value to the current environment


Briefing of new Ministers and Heads


Aim interventions at generating profit or alternatively enhancing food and nutrition security


Develop investment profiles

TGs under the APP project:

Business Development TG led by IICA


Agricultural Research and Human Resource Development TG led by CARDI, in collaboration with UWI Faculty of Food and Agriculture


Climate Change & Natural Resource Management TG led by the FAO


Agricultural Health & Food Safety Systems led by the CCS

Current Challenges Facing the Fisheries Industry:

Weak knowledge and industry information base


Difficult to coordinate output and management due to the transboundary nature of the commodity


Absence of management plans for specific species


No cross border fishing agreements amongst countries


Limited support for small fisherfolk, especially in the area of financing


Negative effects of sargassum seaweed on the industry


No common fisheries regime to register vessels, establish fishing zones and carry out policing


No official industry development plan

Conclusion

Challenges to agriculture in the Caribbean are many and wide reaching. Organizations that are positioned to help are the same. The AFNC is an important tool in bringing those organizations together to discuss what needs to be done, what is being done and how any of those initiatives can be improved to achieve the best possible circumstances for agriculture in the Region.
The new AFNC was born under the APP however, there is a great need to continue this Cluster even after the APP programme has closed. It will also be important to continue and support the Thematic Groups and the Priority Commodity Groups to ensure that the work started does not fall to the wayside, and the conversations and relationships that have been generated, bear the good fruit that is promised.

This series of project proceedings is produced under the Caribbean Action for the Agricultural Policy Programme (APP). The APP is funded under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) from the European Union and executed by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in collaboration with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the CARICOM Secretariat (CCS)/CARIFORUM.
This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union.

WP#8 Agri-Institutions Cluster (2)

Intra-ACP Agriculture Policy Programme (APP) Caribbean Action, with funding
by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF)
1

APP Proceedings No. 8 • November 2016

Intra-ACP Agriculture Policy Programme (APP)

APP Proceedings No. 8

Supporting the Future We Want in CARICOM Agriculture through
Collective Action

Agriculture Food & Nutrition Cluster (AFNC) Meetings 16 through 20

Meeting Contributors

Virtual meetings of the Agriculture Food and Nutrition Cluster (AFNC) meetings chaired for the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) continued over the period of February to July 2016, hosted from the CARDI Head Office in Trinidad and Tobago
Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI)

Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA)
About the AFNC
The genesis of the Agriculture Food and Nutrition Cluster (AFNC) is a result of a mandate by the Secretary General of CARICOM for CARICOM agencies to harmonize work programmes and engage in more collaboration.
Initially, membership of the AFNC comprised CARDI (Chair), CARPHA, CCS, CDEMA, CRFM, CXC, CARICOM IMPACS, UG, UWI and CCCCC. In 2013, COTED mandated institutions engaged in agricultural development in the Region, to harmonize their work activity and maximize the use of the limited resources. These agencies included IICA, FAO, CABA, CaFAN, CDB and the OECS Secretariat. Since many of the institutions comprising this COTED mandated grouping were not regional institutions and did not initially comprise the group established by the mandate of the Secretary General, all agencies were subsumed under the AFNC.
The current AFNC fulfils its’ mandate by collectively supporting and promoting the policies, strategies and programmes that are approved by the COTED and Heads of Government.
The work of the Cluster is dominated by a core group of institutions whose work is primarily related to agriculture. However, ongoing efforts are underway to ensure that other institutions are engaged and fully contributing.
In addition, Regional Commodity Working Groups were established in 2014 under the AFNC. They recommended and agreed upon a regional focus for four priority commodities, namely Roots and Tubers, Herbs and Spices, Small Ruminants and Fisheries.
Despite its short life, the AFNC has managed to establish itself, with support from the APP, as a mechanism that will eliminate many overlaps in institutional activities, as well as deliberate over challenges plaguing the sector. The Cluster will continue to expand its activities and engage all its members in the collaborative process.

Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency
Caribbean Public Health Agency

University of West Indies (UWI)

Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC)
Caribbean Agribusiness Association (CABA)
Along with regular Cluster Members: CCS, CARDI (Chair), IICA, FAO, CFRM, CAFAN, and OECS

Proceedings

AFNC agendas included:
CARICOM Agriculture: The Future We Want
Matters Arising:
The Coconut Industry
Uniting to Stop the Epidemic of NCDs in the Caribbean- Time to Accelerate Action
Implications of BREXIT for CARICOM
Plan of Action to Engage the Private Sector
Information Sharing and Data Collection to Guide Decision Making
Regional Bio-Safety Programme
COTED – Support for Areas of Focus and Proposed Changes in Strategy, Policy or Programmes
Reports by Thematic Group
Report on Priority Commodity Groups

CARICOM Agriculture: The Future We Want
Most of the work done by the AFNC during this period was in relation to the creation of the document, “CARICOM Agriculture: The Future We Want.” In February 2016, the chair of the AFNC at the direction of the Cluster, met with President Granger of Guyana to discuss agriculture and the engagement of the private sector. Out of that meeting, there was a tacit agreement that the President, in his capacity as lead Head of State with responsibility for agriculture, would convene a meeting with the ministers of agriculture and the private sector. Individual ministers were encouraged to meet with the relevant domestic, private sector players in their country before that meeting so that a brief could be prepared and presented, outlining opportunities and issues which needed to be addressed.
The AFNC used their meetings in April and May to review, provide input and alter the main document in preparation for the meeting with the President of Guyana. After much work and many iterations, the AFNC paper titled “CARICOM Agriculture: The Future We Want” was drafted. The paper draws on important regional policy and planning documents, including the Strategic Plan for the Caribbean Community 2015-2019: Repositioning CARICOM, the Caribbean Regional Food and Nutrition Security Policy and Action Plan (Oct 2010), Caribbean Community Agricultural Policy (October 2011), the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy, and the Revised OECS Regional Plan of Action for Agriculture.
This APP brief summarizes the vision, objectives, challenges and main elements of the strategy paper, which are driven by: (i) consideration of the food and health needs of the CARICOM citizens, (ii) the current and future resources and opportunities for agriculture to contribute to the growth of the regional economy, and (iii) the concept of development and policies that the Region embraces. It is worthwhile to note that the paper also draws on lessons from past experiences in the development of the agriculture sector in the Region. One such lesson is to define upfront, the approach to resource mobilization to achieve the vision and objectives as outlined.
Key Decisions:
Since its initial submission to the President of Guyana, the paper has been receiving comments and suggestions which will be used to prepare a revised version for recirculation. With respect to what needs to be done to quickly operationalize the proposed recommendations and strategies, the Cluster agreed to prepare an implementation plan with a focus on the five priority commodities previously identified for development, namely fisheries, herbs and spices, small ruminants, roots and tubers, as well as coconuts to some extent. ‘Big ticket’ items in the food import bill also need to be identified as possible sources for channeling investment opportunities and this is to be presented to the Heads, as well as the private sector. These items included rice, poultry, alcohol, grain, dairy products and wheat. The need to compile concrete analytical data to successfully present investment opportunities in these commodity-based value chains was also deemed essential and practical to carry the process forward.
There was also consensus that in addition to engaging Heads of Government, to attain key mandates which can send signals to the private sector for more investment, equal focus should also be placed on direct engagement with the private sector themselves to obtain their views and requirements for investment. This could only improve the proposed strategies. It was emphasized that private sector interest would be increased if the proposed plans and strategies provide some indication of returns on investments. The Cluster agreed that engagement of the private sector would be guided by the preparation and presentation of investment profiles with a focus on the priority commodities. The Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA) could be used as an initial platform for such engagement and outreach to the private sector.
Overall, the decision was to continue the engagement process with the President of Guyana, including through the Secretary General of CARICOM, as necessary, and with key private sector players, as the basis for preparation of practical strategies to tackle these food items and development of requisite policy to support growth in these areas.
Matters Arising and Outstanding Actions
The Coconut Industry
Although coconut has not been identified under the APP as a priority commodity, there has been much work and focus put on this industry through other initiatives in the Region. This includes the on-going training of coconut stakeholders in Belize, in addition to the training already undertaken in Suriname and Guyana. CARDI has been able to interact with the private sector firms of Coconut Growers Association and Blue Waters through the “Coconut Project” in Trinidad. They are meeting with representatives from these companies to find out what they would like to see stimulate the possibilities for investment in the industry.
Uniting to Stop the Epidemic of NCDs in the Caribbean- Time to Accelerate Action
The issue of Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (CNCDs) is one that is tightly tied to food and nutrition. These diseases, are not passed from person to person but rather caused by outside factors that are often avoidable. There are four main types of non-communicable diseases which are cardiovascular diseases (like heart attacks and stroke), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma) and diabetes (www.who.int). Each CARIFORUM member state has been asked to establish a commission to address non-communicable diseases that would incorporate the necessary stakeholders. In countries where this has occurred it has led to increased action and advocacy. However, many issues still need to be addressed in order to move forward such as health care costs and nutrition. At a meeting in March 2016 the commissions met to evaluate the 2002 Port of Spain Declaration and seek solutions to address key challenges. Agriculture and nutrition were featured prominently at the meeting and therefore information was shared with the AFNC in hopes that they could participate in future discussions, supporting the commissions drive to reduce the impact and occurrence of NCDs in the Region.
Key Decisions:
Following discussions on the matter, the AFNC chair indicated that reports related to the subject of NCD would be shared with the Cluster and that members are encouraged to contribute to the discussion and guide deliberations.

Implications of BREXIT for CARICOM
Changes to the makeup of the European Union (EU) with the potential loss of England will affect CARICOM trade arrangements and therefore the economy. The CCS prepared an analytical paper on the matter which was circulated to members of the AFNC.
Key Decisions:
Though the CCS document covered key issues, the meeting agreed that there was a need for further discussion between the EU and the Region moving forward. Cluster members were encouraged to raise issues and concerns with the CCS.
Information Sharing and Data Collection to Guide Decision Making
Recent discussions at AFNC meetings have emphasized the importance of information sharing across participating agencies, as well as data collection, to achieve the purpose of the AFNC and to guide overall decision making. Cluster members were encouraged to support and make use of the electronic platforms supported under the APP, to gather, store and analyze agricultural information which can complement efforts at inter-agency coordination and collaboration. These include the Activities Integration Matrix (AIM) which seeks to capture information on agriculture projects in the Region.
The issue of the difficulties experienced by national agencies, including Ministries of Agriculture, to simultaneously report to various entities across the Region, using different reporting formats was also noted. It was agreed that this should be raised before the Agriculture Planners and a mechanism be explored to include national information in the regional platforms. This would support efforts to improve the quality, comparability and consistency of reporting at both national and regional levels.
Key Decisions:
As a result of these discussions it was decided that reports already submitted to the CCS by other CARICOM agencies to populate the Operational Plan are to be shared for inclusion into the AIM database. Additionally, all agencies were encouraged to make a concerted effort to support the work of AIM. Also, plans were made to move forward with a meeting of agencies comprising FAO, CARDI, IICA, and the CCS, to explore a mechanism to gather information from national entities.

Regional Bio-Safety Programme
At the July AFNC meeting, the representative from UWI provided a background for and introduction to the Regional Bio-Safety Programme. The programme is funded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)/ Global Environment Facility (GEF) and is being implemented in 12 countries. The UWI representative shared the progress of the project to date, particularly in the areas of policy, legislative and regulatory systems. Generally, the programme supports various aspects of the Cartagena Protocol. He highlighted that countries had signed onto the Cartagena Protocol and had received support from UNEP/GEF. He also addressed the existence of a regional biotechnology and biosafety policy that was shared with COTED.
The representative stressed that biotechnology plays a key role in agricultural development in the Region. He indicated that he wished to have CARDI or the Cluster to take the policy forward. The meeting was reminded that activities related to bio-safety should be incorporated into the work programme of CAHFSA, and that other agencies and projects were doing similar work.
Key Decisions:
Following discussions it was agreed that CAHFSA and the Programme can collaborate and that CCS and the APP should also be looking at the programme in relation to what they are currently doing in order to minimize overlap and maximize the use of resources. It was also decided that the Agricultural Health and Food Safety Systems (AHFSS) TG, led by CAHFSA, should continue to discuss the issue and provide recommendations to the Cluster.

COTED – Support for Areas of Focus and Proposed Changes in Strategy, Policy or Programmes
The committee has received correspondence from the Minister of Agriculture from St. Vincent and the Grenadines outlining his desire to see increased efforts at focusing on consolidated supplies of commodities to markets. The minister was advised that the Region would have to look at improved integration (horizontal and vertical) in industries, development of contracts and other mechanisms. Further, a dedicated programme at the regional level for the strengthening of producer groups would be needed. The experiences of the banana model which had been successful up to a point, was used to illustrate emphasize the need to include key elements to facilitate sustainable development of the commodity. These include relevant legislation, reliable transportation, firm contracts, appropriate research and development, targeted policy support, crop insurance and general support to producers.
Based on the efforts in the Region, and given the work of CaFAN, sweet potato appeared to be the commodity most ready for similar attention and support. Coconuts and small ruminants could also be added to that list.
Key Decisions:
In the area of consolidating supplies of commodities to markets, it was decided that a virtual meeting would be convened to discuss the advancement of the position to develop commodities for increased trading and a proposal should be developed for the attention of the Minister.
Reports by Thematic Group (TG)
The AFNC has been given the mandate of assessing the performance of the TGs. The purpose of the TGs is to address production and trade targets, relative to regional policy.
The Research and Human Resource Development TG (TGRHRD) worked on their 2016 plan over this period, which included a compilation of activities by related agencies. At the direction of the TG, UWI has also been working on human resources development and an exercise to address the CARICOM mandated professionalization of occupations in agriculture.
In March 2016, the Climate Change, Natural Resource Management and Disaster Risk Management TG (CCNRMDRM) received Dr. Ulric Trotz, Deputy Director and Science Advisor for the 5Cs, who presented on COP21, which was a Paris Climate Conference aimed at achieving a legally binding and universal agreement on climate. The TG is also looking into obtaining funding from the Green Climate Fund to support countries in the Region and will be developing a proposal for funding initiatives on renewable energy, which will be presented to the Cluster for their endorsement.
The members the Agricultural Health and Food Safety Systems TG (AHFS) have also established a priority list of tasks linked to plant health issues. The Chief veterinary officers are scheduled to meet to examine regulations for veterinary professionals. Other issues to be addressed include finalizing animal inspection protocols which are to be shared with the COTED and poultry risk analysis to be done with Guyana and Barbados.
Key Decisions:
The need for TGs to show performance was discussed after the presentations. It was stressed that Heads of Government want to see impact and as such, the various groups should be mindful of this reality when establishing their monitoring and evaluation frameworks. It was suggested that, given the difficulty in reporting activities and outputs, there should be a focus on four core areas for reporting in the first instance to make reporting easier. These four areas would then lead towards achieving more significant goals and could be integrated into the CARICOM Strategic Plan.
A decision was also made that TGs should report to the Cluster on a quarterly basis and to the COTED as scheduled.
Report on Priority Commodity Groups (CG)
Four different commodity groups have been prioritized in the Caribbean, Herbs and Spices, Cassava, Small Ruminants and Fisheries. Reports on each of these groups were presented at the AFNC meetings.
Small Ruminants: Industry development actions are focused on herd management, farm productivity, husbandry practices, breeding, housing, forage-based feeding systems and policy development. Farmers have and continue to receive training on artificial insemination, processing and genetic resource management. Moving forward, the development plans will include ICT applications for the industry, such as an eLearning platform with support from the Government of New Zealand.
Fisheries: The focus is on both marine fish and aquaculture, and industry plans will have to be developed for both segments. For efficient management of the marine fisheries industry, the focus will have to be on few key species of food and nutrition and economic significance to the Region.
Herbs and Spices industry: Currently the industry is receiving support from the CTA, led by CABA, to promote export platforms, the EU funded SPS programme to train persons in HACCP certification, and the EU APP in the development of a Regional Policy Framework and Coordinating Mechanism. The latter includes a study of markets, as well as a strategic plan for the industry.
Cassava: Industry development is being led by the Cassava Working Group coordinated by the FAO. Under the EU APP, a regional industry development policy has been completed and is currently being reviewed with a view to integrating it with the Strategic plan developed through the Working Group. There have been calls, notably by CAFAN, to extend the work on cassava to cover the entire roots and tubers industry.
Key Decisions:
After the CGs reports, participants were reminded of the importance of the industry plans and encouraged to complete the required work based on the model set forward by the FAO plan for cassava.

Previous AFNC Decisions which led to the document “CARICOM Agriculture: The Future We Want”:
It was decided that those with lead responsibility for agriculture in each country should:

Capture developments being undertaken on the national level


Prepare a focus paper on what is being done in the Region


Meet with the Head of State with lead responsibility for Agriculture in the Region to arrive at a harmonized position on engaging the private sector to facilitate increased economic development
Summary of the Key Elements in the AFNC Document “CARICOM Agriculture: The Future We Want”:
Vision:
“A dynamic, green and resilient food and agriculture system that sustainably meets the food needs of Caribbean citizens at all times”.
Objectives:

To ensure that the regional food production, processing, distribution, marketing, trade and food safety, and agricultural public health systems are capable of providing safe, adequate, nutritious, and affordable food for the Region’s inhabitants at all times, thereby achieving sustainable food and nutrition security;


To promote inclusionary processes that provide opportunities, especially for poor and rural residents who depend on natural resources and rural economies for their income and livelihoods;


To establish policies and institutional frameworks that provide incentives for, and result in the generation and transfer of, appropriate technologies along the entire food and agriculture value chains while ensuring the efficient and sustainable use of resources and maximizing the economic, social and environmental well-being of Caribbean people; and


To improve the enabling environment for commercially viable food and agri-business products linked with promotion of healthy and “special” local Caribbean foods in tourism and retail markets.
Areas Covered on Food and Agriculture Development Contributions and Challenges:

Economic/Finance


Trade


Production/Value Chains


Natural Resource Management


Health and Nutrition


Linkages
The Future We Want 12 Elements:
1.
A regional commitment to green and climate-resilient food and agriculture systems.

2.
Diversification and increased pillars for food and agricultural growth and transformation distributed across the entire region, including all countries, according to comparative advantages and market opportunities.

3.
Development of national and regional food systems, particularly addressing the food import bill by increased domestic production of root crops, small ruminants, aquaculture, and condiments.

4.
Emphasis on regional and national value chains as opposed to supply chains.

5.
Inclusive production and distribution processes that target particular value chain participants (youth and hinterland residents).

6.
Integrated rural and territorial development systems for mini capitals.

7.
Sustainable use of natural resources.

8.
Innovation systems, including technology and information transfer, to serve and promote the dynamic development of the food and agriculture sector.

9.
Increased and complementary public and private sector investment, including foreign direct investment.

10.
Trade and market development, including special attention to intra-regional trade.

11.
Improved governance of the food and agriculture system.

12.
Integrated ministerial approaches will be used to influence improved lifelong food choices and consumption patterns.
Achieving the Future of CARICOM Food and Agriculture That We Want Over a 5-Year Period:

Launch a CARICOM Food and Agriculture Fund that would be administered by either the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) or the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF), based on contributions from Governments in the region, development partners’ pledges, global foundations and private sector contributions


Private sector investment, foreign direct investment, public/private sector joint investments should be pursued with investment policies, programs and incentives. This necessitates the immediate establishment of a regional investment hub that provides inter alia investment profiles and facilitates investments within the agriculture and food sectors.


Establish a CARICOM Commission on Food and Agriculture with a limited tenure of five years to provide leadership on the process of promoting new food and agricultural systems in the region taking into consideration the concepts and approaches presented in the paper.


Engage fully and more directly as a Region with the regional and hemispheric institutions, as well as the United Nations system organizations and similar multilateral agencies the can assist in the strengthening of Caribbean agriculture.


Facilitate the preparation of a comprehensive action plan for agricultural production, processing and trade, which provides guidance and assistance in the mobilization of funding for increased capacity building as an urgent priority in areas related to food and agriculture.
TGs under the APP project:

Business Development TG led by IICA


Agricultural Research and Human Resource Development TG led by CARDI, in collaboration with UWI Faculty of Food and Agriculture


Climate Change, Natural Resource Management and Disaster Risk Management TG led by the FAO


Agricultural Health & Food Safety Systems led by the CAHSFA
Acronyms for past and present Members of the AFNC:

CARDI – The Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute


CARPHA – The Caribbean Public Health Agency


CCS – The CARICOM Secretariat


CDEMA – the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency


CFRM – The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism


CXC – The Caribbean Examination Council


CARICOM IMPACS – The CARICOM Implementing Agency for Crime and Security


UG – University of Guyana


UWI – University of West Indies


CCCCC – The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre


IICA – Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture


FAO – Food and Agriculture Organization


CABA – The Caribbean Agribusiness Association


CaFAN – The Caribbean Farmers Network


CDB – The Caribbean Development Bank


OECS – The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States
Harvesting cassava in Guyana. (Photo: Canbean Associates Inc.)

Conclusion

Regular meetings of the AFNC cluster have proven to be fruitful and effective in supporting Caribbean agriculture and minimizing overlap of projects in the Region. With relevant parties coming to the table each month they are able to discuss their on-going projects, brainstorm for suggestions and join forces to create strong collaborations.
The “CARICOM Agriculture: The Future We Want” document reflects the vision and objectives of the AFNC. By meeting together they are better able to drive towards those objectives and keep the momentum going in strengthening agriculture in the Region.
Though the APP was a catalyst for the new model being used by the AFNC, once the APP project is closed it will be vital that the AFNC continues to meet, grow and change as required, to best serve agricultural interests in the Region.

This series of project proceedings is produced under the Caribbean Action for the Agricultural Policy Programme (APP). The APP is funded under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) from the European Union and executed by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in collaboration with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the CARICOM Secretariat (CCS)/CARIFORUM.
This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union.

WP#10 Building Capacity

Intra-ACP Agriculture Policy Programme (APP) Caribbean Action, with funding
by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF)
APP Proceedings No. 10 • October 2016

1

Intra-ACP Agriculture Policy Programme (APP)

APP Proceedings No. 10

Building Capacity for Agricultural Producer Groups and Networks with the End Goal of Reaching Wider Markets

CABA-CAFAN Regional Strategic Business Planning Workshop

Participating Organizations

This workshop on Strategic Business and Chain Facilitation Training for CaFAN and CABA was supported by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) as part of the action under Component 3 of the APP. The workshop took place from October 29th to 31st, 2015 in Christ Church, Barbados.
Caribbean Farmers Network (CaFAN)

The purpose of this workshop was to facilitate improved governance frameworks and organizational capacity of national producer groups and regional producer networks. Participants included members of CaFAN and CABA and representatives of Caribbean development organizations and agriculture related institutions.

Caribbean AgriBusiness Association (CABA)
Overview & Objectives
The Caribbean Farmers Network (CaFAN) represents the interests of small and medium-sized producers in the Region. They have identified promising export market opportunities in Europe for roots and tubers and potential domestic markets in the hotel, restaurant and supermarket segments for vegetables and fruits.
The Caribbean AgriBusiness Association (CABA) represents the interests of small and medium-sized agro-processing enterprises. They have identified domestic market opportunities for composite baked products using roots and tubers and developed a programme aimed at commercializing the production and marketing of the same. They have also identified potential to enter the beverage and condiment market through a company in the UK.
In order to take full advantage of these prospects and improve the competitive position of CARIFORUM-based food producers, regional producer groups and networks must be focused, organized and united. It is with these goals in mind that the EU-funded intra-ACP Agricultural Policy Programme (APP), in collaboration with beneficiary networks, carried out the Regional Strategic Business Planning Workshop.
The objectives of the workshop were to plan the details of commodity/product production and marketing programmes promoted by CaFAN and CABA and to define the approach for improving governance frameworks and organizational capacity of these networks to execute the programmes being promoted.

Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA)
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
The College of Agriculture, Science and Education
Proceedings

CABA workshop sessions included:
APP Component 3 Indicators
CABA Constitution/By-laws
Strategic Plan Review: APP, CTA, FAO support
Governance and Capacity Building
SME Certification and Capacity Building
CABA Work Plan and Projects
CABA Operation Plan
Country Marketing Plans
Regional Marketing Plan
Joint Plenary Closing Session

Strategic Business Planning (CABA)
Discussions amongst CABA participants during this workshop were focused on formulating Strategic Plans for development of selected commodity value chains. Certain countries in the Region have been identified as having potential for value added activities involving products such as composite cassava baked products, bananas, coconuts, herbs and spices and more.
Draft strategic plan proposals were circulated amongst participants and discussed. Specifically, the workshop reviewed an intended strategy for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in OECS countries to form a partnership with Winfresh Ltd. This collaboration would increase opportunities for the production and export of juices from Grenada and Dominica, condiments from St. Vincent and the Grenadines and bottled water from Saint. Lucia. The potential for Guyana to develop the coconut industry, where there is approximately 8000 acres of coconut, was also discussed, and other territories with excellent potential for value added activities were identified.
The need to give attention to all of the links in the value chain, from primary production to the final consumer, was highlighted as a key to successful agri-business development.
Key Outcomes:
In the area of Primary Production, CABA participants agreed that:
(a) The most binding constraint to the Region’s agri-business sector is SME access, at the primary and secondary level, to affordable technology, which has contributed to the successful experiences of international agri-exporters such as Costa Rica, Chile and Brazil.
In the area of Commodity Value Chain Development, CABA participants agreed that:
(a) CABA, at the national level, should encourage each Member State to establish a Commodity Value Chain Development Unit under the direction of public sector, CABA and CAFAN national chapter representatives. The objective of this unit would be to assist with the identification, organization and partial funding of high potential, national commodity value chains.
(b) CABA, at the regional level, should continue to focus on the development of the staples and herbs and spices value chains for producing fresh, semi-processed and consumer ready products, in conjunction with CaFAN and international development partners.
In the area of Market Development, CABA participants discussed the fact that the organization had recently incorporated an export trading company (CABEXCO) and they agreed that:
(a) Franchising was the best way to go in terms of a business model to be pursued by CABA. For example, CABA would provide cassava mash, packaging, labelling, etc. to an established baker or distributor and the two entities would split the profits or collect royalties. It was acknowledged that this model may have its challenges in that it could provide competition for a baker’s own brand.
In the area of Sustainability, CABA participants agreed that:
(a) For each commodity value chain promoted and developed by CABA at the national and regional levels, there should be mechanisms developed for allocating a small percentage of revenue generated by the value chain activities/enterprises, to covering the administrative expenses of CABA and CAFAN at the regional and local chapter levels (~1% or 2%) as well as some to research and development (~2%).
(b) CARICOM seeks to obtain major grant funding for a technology supply service to the agri-sector. All grants should be matched by public and private sector funds and access to the funds by agri-business/value chains will be by a competitive process administered by the public sector, CABA and CaFAN representatives.
Governance and Organizational Development (CABA)
CABA participants undertook a detailed review of the organization’s Constitution and By-Laws with the aim of improving the governance structure of the organization to better serve its membership. They also discussed the possibility, under the support of the APP, of engaging Business Development Officers (BDOs) for a period of six months. They would involve the BDOs to assist with developing the commercial potential of CABA and its members and to specifically support the execution of the regional programme on cassava.
Key Outcomes:
In the area of Governance, CABA participants agreed that:
(a)
There is a need for a solid organizational structure and transparent procedures.

(b)
There is a need for a strong CABA secretariat to accomplish its mandate of expanding agri-business opportunities to its membership and beyond. CABA member chapters would also need assistance.

(c)
To mitigate situations where private individuals outnumber national chapters, and therein can vote on issues in their own interest and not the interest of the agricultural sector in the region, private individuals would be afforded associate membership only (Section 3.2 (a) of the CABA constitution)

(d)
A nominal membership fee should be considered (Section 4 of the CABA constitution).

(e)
Election of vice-presidents should be on an industry basis rather than a thematic basis (Section 7 of the CABA constitution).

(f)
Removal of the obligation for a public sector official to be a member of the CABA Board of Directors is appropriate (Section 8 of the CABA constitution).

(g)
Any meeting called must have an agenda and CABA Directors must have that agenda before any meeting is convened (Section 12 of the CABA constitution).
In the area of Organizational Development, CABA participants agreed that:
(a)
The BDOs would also work to enhance the organizational capacity of the CABA secretariat and member Chapters at the national level. In the case of St. Lucia, where there is no CABA chapter, one will be needed to implement CABA activities.

(b)
The issue of the reporting relationship between the BDOs, CABA and IICA-APP needs to be addressed given concerns expressed about these persons not reporting directly to CABA. The concern is that they will not follow up on directives given by CABA but rather the principal organization that hired those officers (i.e. IICA/APP).

(c)
CABA and IICA seek to enter into an arrangement which would allow the technical work of the contracted BDOs to be overseen by CABA e.g. a Letter of Agreement (LOA)

(d)
Due to the nature of the organizational structure of CABA, wherein the Chapter members operate out of different CARIFORUM territories, a request be made of IICA and CARDI to facilitate virtual web meetings for the organization.

Strategic Business Planning (CaFAN)
CaFAN began its workshop by reviewing country reports from six participating country representatives. They discussed key crops and export statistics, and then the meeting focused on five important areas of concern and opportunity.
Key Outcomes:
Representatives agreed that there were several common challenges that each country faced across the Caribbean, namely:

Development of commercial and business skills


Access to land


Pest and disease control


Access to markets


Access to finance


Impact of climate change and related natural disasters
They also agreed that developing comprehensive regional production plans for selected commodities is an important step forward. Currently, CaFAN is promoting a Regional Production and Export Plan for sweet potato and dasheen. Production under this plan would be market demand-driven and conducted simultaneously in several countries. Major elements of the approach would include:

Examining Market Opportunities


Setting of Production Targets (by crop and country)


Breaking down of targets into export phases


Determining needs at farm and value chain levels


Clustering farmers to support coordination of production


Creating and implementing quality assurance systems


Access the market
Additionally, during the CaFAN portion of the workshop, a thorough review of the global fresh produce export market for sweet potatoes was provided by Dr. Derrick Deslandes, from the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE). Currently, the biggest markets for sweet potatoes are in France, the Netherlands, the UK, Japan, Canada and the USA. Surprisingly, there is not a high demand for fresh tubers in the tourism sector of the Caribbean, as the majority of the hotels do not promote the “Caribbean taste.”
Dr. Deslandes addressed the area of financing in the roots and tubers sector. He noted that it is not just a matter of obtaining financial support, but rather receiving it in a timely manner. Funds are required for planting and harvesting and when it comes to roots and tubers these must be done at the correct times of year in order to ensure quality and appropriate quantity of the crops.
He also noted that good agricultural practices (GAPs) require pre-harvest financing. He alluded to the fact that many farmers produce crops without scientific knowledge and GAPs such as soil testing before planting. To support his argument, he used the example of farmers in Saint Mary’s, Jamaica where the practice of soil testing resulted in improved yields.
Varietal differences for different roots and tubers in the Caribbean was also discussed. Dr. Deslandes expressed that not enough research has been done to improve the varieties grown in the Region and more work has to be done in characterizing them. In order to meet the demands of export markets, the correct varieties must be offered. They differ in terms of moisture, fiber and sucrose content and as such require different post-harvest handling. These factors also affect the markets for which they are suitable.
The Jamaican programme supporting the upgrade of crop exports for the Beauregard variety of Sweet Potato was presented to the group. Jamaica is currently the major exporter of sweet potatoes from the Caribbean. Dasheen from the Caribbean also has a good presence in the market and it is deemed as being of good quality. In both cases, marketability can be enhanced with branding and proper grading and packaging to meet the requirements of the supermarket segment.
Key Outcomes:
Discussions that followed the presentation focused on the approach which should be taken to market penetration and pricing strategies. It was agreed that the aim is first to strengthen the Caribbean’s presence in the ethnic market segment and then to penetrate the supermarket chain segment, with the pricing of products to be done in accordance with the segment being targeted.
The topics of food safety and product certifications were also addressed, along with the importance of SME certification and capacity building in these two areas. Dr. Janet Lawrence, the Programme Manager for the EU funded SPS project, spoke to the issue and process of certification. First, a standard and product certification for agricultural products must be decided. There are private standards and Global GAP, which is mandatory for farmers to adopt in 2016.
Emphasis was placed on producers and SMEs understanding who their buyer is; what standards they are required to adhere to; the process flow; and their ability to meet the requirements, including gaps which need to be filled.
Key Outcomes:
During post presentation discussions, participants acknowledged that farmers and field officers would need training, assistance with keeping good records and the ability to conduct audits. Individual farm assessments would also be required so that training can be tailored to fit the needs of the specific producer. Relevant actions that will be taken under the SPS programme include capacity building for the private sector in HACCP, GAP Audit and Traceability, and the preparation of a manual on how to audit crop farms using Global GAP. Dr. Lawrence indicated that it would be possible for a key person from both CaFAN and CABA to receive training as Trainers of Trainers under the SPS programme.
During the final portion of the workshop, CaFAN participants were given the task of preparing country production forecasts for sweet potato and dasheen. Estimates of acreage, production yields, post-harvest losses, marketable output, number of farmers that could be involved, presence of packing facilitates and exporters, and possible start-up dates were prepared and presented by participants.
Key Outcomes:
The final country production forecasts for Sweet Potato are presented in below:
The final country production forecasts for Dasheen are presented in below:
At the end of the exercise it was concluded that regardless of the size of the holding, if farmers know that there was a good market for a product they would get on board and participate in implementing the proposed plan.
Governance and Organizational Development (CaFAN)
Best practices for producer group governance were reviewed during the CaFAN portion of the workshop and the Chief Coordinator for CaFAN, Jethro Greene, explained the organizational structure of CaFAN. He noted the opportunity to develop the organization and make a link between the current development arm and a new business arm for the currently non-profit farmer’s organization. He indicated that the right organizational framework would be key in making a model such as this work; to convert from a purely voluntary organization into one that operates on a full business model.
Key Outcomes:
In the area of Organizational Development, CaFAN participants agreed that:
(a)
CaFAN member organizations should pay keen attention to the issue of statutory regulations and requirements.

(b)
If it were to convert from a purely voluntary organization into one that operates on a full business model, CaFAN would need strong business people, as well as people with the requisite skills to run commercial operations.

(c)
There is the need for assistance to address the matter of an organizational business development model for CaFAN. The presence or absence of a properly functioning organizational structure has implications for organization’s ability to access assistance and resources from agricultural development and donor agencies.

(d)
The contracting of National Value Chain Facilitators (NVCF) is important in assisting CaFAN to strengthen its organizational and management systems (at the secretariat and country chapter levels). NVCFs will work with CaFAN to develop the appropriate organizational framework and business model.
The need for an organized and detailed membership survey was also suggested in order to better understand the views and needs of a wider group of the membership.

About CABA
The Caribbean AgriBusiness Association (CABA) represents the Caribbean Region’s first agricultural association. It was officially established in May 1998.
CABA was founded as an integrated and vital agricultural mechanism to provide a collective negotiating voice for the agribusiness sub-sector and further stimulate agribusiness growth and trade in the Region.
CABA is dedicated to promoting a common agribusiness interest through concentrated and consolidated action, and to be an effective advocate of agribusiness interest before governments in the Region.
CABA is endorsed and supported by the Inter- American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Hemispheric’s specialised agency for agricultural development.
With IICA’s presence in the 34 democratically elected countries of the Western Hemisphere and working relationship with the Hemisphere’s Ministers of Agriculture, IICA can provide CABA with the integral contacts to both the private and public agri-business sectors.
Through the IICA alliance, CABA has access to a wealth of agricultural research, including policy analyses, trade statistics and information on trends in technological innovations for agriculture.
(Taken from www.cabaregional.org)
Four Strategic Elements in CABA Business Proposals for Identified Commodities:
1.
Primary Agriculture Production

2.
Commodity Value Chain Development

3.
Market Development

4.
Sustainability
CABA Board of Directors:
President: Vassel Stewart, Trinidad and Tobago
Vice President: James Paul, Barbados
Executive Secretariat: Trinidad and Tobago, Office – UWI, St Augustine Campus
Commodity Groups and National Chapters Represented on the Board:
Trinidad and Tobago
Barbados
St. Lucia
Dominica
Jamaica
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Poultry
Pork
Input Suppliers/Marketing Boards
(Taken from www.cabaregional.org)
Rich offerings from local farms and agro-processors at a market in Saint Lucia.
(Photo: Canbean Associates Inc.)
Cassava composite being cut and weighed in preparation for making cassava bread. (Photo: APP)

CaFAN workshop sessions included:
APP Component 3 Indicators
Country Reports
Market Analysis
Governance and Capacity Building of Small Farmers
Production Certification
Production Forecasting – Working Group
Operation Plan
Finalization of Country Production and Marketing Plans
Regional Production and Marketing Plan (Draft)
Joint Plenary Closing Session

About CaFAN
The Caribbean Farmers Network (CaFAN), formed in 2004, is a regional network of Farmers’ Associations and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in the Caribbean. CaFAN’s major focus is to foster linkages, training and information sharing amongst Caribbean farmers so that they are in a better position to respond to the key challenges facing the agricultural sector in the Caribbean.
CaFAN organises training workshops, advocacy, study tours, information sharing, regional planning sessions, and produces a variety of publications.(Taken from www.caribbeanfarmers.org)
Participating CaFAN Country Network Chapter Representatives

Antigua and Barbuda


Dominica


Jamaica


St. Lucia


St. Vincent and the Grenadines


Suriname
Key Focus Areas Discussed by CaFAN:

Common challenges faced by small farmers in the Caribbean


Developing a Comprehensive Regional Production Plan


Export Market Opportunities


SME Certification and Capacity Building


Production Forecasting
Elements of the Jamaican Programme for Exporting the Beauregard Variety of Sweet Potato:

Implementing Partners: IICA, PROPEL, RADA


Clean Seed Programme: Under this programme slips were brought from Louisiana, USA and were sold at $5 each. The farmers are required to give a percentage of the slips that they generate to the research station for replanting.


Seedling Programme: 33 farmers were involved in the planting of 1,470,800 slips on 77.5 acres of Jamaican farmland. To ensure coordination a harvesting schedule was developed.


Increased Yields Expected: As a result of increased productivity, farmers could earn a 50% return on invest.


Expected Project Outcomes: Trained farmers; large volumes of Beauregard variety for export; improved livelihood for farmers
Global Gap is a private sector body that sets voluntary standards for the certification of production processes of agricultural products around the globe. (www.search.standardsmap.org)
Membership of CaFAN:
CaFAN is open to farmers’ associations in countries of the Caribbean region. To date, the following countries have participated in activities of CaFAN – Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts/Nevis; St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago and Suriname.

Country
Acreage
Avg Yield/ Acre
Estimated Marketable Output
Avg Farm Gate Price (US$)
# of Farmers
Packing Facilities
Exporters

Antigua
25
10000
25000
.75
20
No
No

Barbados
500
7500
750000
1
50
ECTAD
BAS

Dominica
25
10000
25000
.80
25

Grenada
50
10000
100000
.60
20
Mkt Board
GMB

Jamaica
420
15000
1260000
120
Farmers Assoc
EPFA

St. Lucia
20
12000
24000
.75
30
No
No

St. Vincent
20
12150
24300
.50
80
ECTAD
ECTAD

Suriname
37
10000
37000
.68
10
No
Gopex

TOTAL
1097
10831
2245300
.73
355

Country
Acreage
Avg Yield/ Acre
Estimated Marketable Output
Avg Farm Gate Price (US$)
# of Farmers
Packing Facilities
Exporters

Antigua
25
10000
25000
.75
20
No
No

Dominica
50
12000
90000
.50

Grenada
100
10000
900000
.65
30
GMB
GMB

Jamaica
340
9000
2754000
120
EPFA
EPFA

St. Vincent
70
14000
631800
.40
140
ECTAD
ECTAD

Conclusion

The Caribbean is home to many local, family farms and agriculture provides employment for a great many people in the Region. Unfortunately though, food supplies from local sources are limited and imports are flooding the Caribbean market. High food import costs are leading to deeper poverty, especially in rural areas of the Caribbean. The imports also represent a loss of potential income and economic stimulus.
It is clear from the opportunities presented by both CaFAN and CABA at this workshop that the potential is out there to grow the Caribbean agriculture and agro-processing sectors. The Region has unique and desirable products to offer to the rest of the world. However, in order to get those products to market there needs to be a united and organized effort by farmers, agro-processors, development organizations, exporters and governments.
This is no small task. As noted by Jethro Greene in his closing remarks at the workshop, “At the end of the day, ideas and solutions are easy to come by, but putting them into action is the hardest part.” To move forward successfully producer groups and networks will need to have strong frameworks and governance structures, as well as increased organizational capacity. Their job will be to bring farmers together and then empower them to get the job done by utilizing all of the support available to them; making the most of grants, training, good policy, financing opportunities and more.
This was the purpose of the Regional Strategic Business Planning Workshop and the general consensus among participants was that the objectives of the workshop were essentially achieved. It is the hope of those who planned the workshop that it has brought the key players a few steps closer to seeing tangible and rewarding results for agri-SMEs across the Region.

This series of project proceedings is produced under the Caribbean Action for the Agricultural Policy Programme (APP). The APP is funded under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) from the European Union and executed by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in collaboration with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the CARICOM Secretariat (CCS)/CARIFORUM.
This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union.

WP#11 Youth in Agriculture

Intra-ACP Agriculture Policy Programme (APP) Caribbean Action, with funding
by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF)
1

APP Proceedings No. 11 • November 2016

Intra-ACP Agriculture Policy Programme (APP)

APP Proceedings No. 11

Providing Support and a Voice for Young Entrepreneurs in Caribbean Agriculture

Youth in Agriculture: Business Forum & Creativity for Employment and Business Opportunity Workshop

Supporting Organizations

These face-to-face Youth in Agriculture (YiA) events were carried out as part of the Regional Dialogue for Development (D4D) Forum and the 9th Regional Planners Forum (RPF) jointly organized and hosted by the CARICOM Secretariat (CCS) under Component 1 and the Project Management Unit (PMU), IICA. The YiA portion of the APP D4D took place in Grenada, during 20-21 January 2016 and the 9th RPF took place in Trinidad & Tobago, during 7 – 9 June 2016.

Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA)
The YiA Forum at the D4D had 35 youth in attendance, representing 14 countries from across the Caribbean. The youth participants were owners and operators of their own agribusinesses or played a vital role in a family owned agricultural enterprise. A similar youth audience was targeted for the testing of a hybrid agriculture Creativity in Employment and Business Opportunity (CEBO) training workshop at the 9th RPF, as well as Ministry of Agriculture planners from 10 CARICOM member states.

CARICOM Community Secretariat
Objective & Overview
The YiA Business Forum held as part of the Regional D4D meeting was geared at providing youth with an opportunity to share experiences and benefit from the open exchange of information and ideas. The main objective was to define a practical approach to youth engagement and entrepreneurship in the agriculture value chain in the Caribbean.
The session focused on topics such as scoping business opportunities in the agri-value chain, starting a successful business and building market oriented businesses. It included three working sessions and a field trip to two successful agribusinesses, West Indian Spices Inc. and the Belmont Estate.
The YiA portion of the 9th RPF hosted discussions on Youth Enabling Policy but also included a workshop for youth to test a hybrid version of the CEBO training tool for young agri-entrepreneurs. The 9th RPF provided the platform to introduce the hybrid AgriCEBO with the objective of capacity building and to design a sustainable approach for subsequent Agri-CEBOs at the regional level.
The CEBO initiative is part of a larger mandate which called for the establishment of a CARICOM Commission on Youth Development (CCYD) tasked with analyzing the challenges and opportunities for youth in the Caribbean and making recommendations to improve their well-being and empowerment.

Creativity in Employment and Business Opportunity (CEBO)
Caribbean Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Livelihoods
Proceedings

Regional D4D YiA Business Forum sessions included:
Facilitating Youth Participation in Agriculture Value Chains
Key Support Needs for Youth and Proposed Interventions
Youth-mandated Action to Support Youth Entrepreneurship and Proposed Interventions

Facilitating Youth Participation in Agriculture Value Chains
During this portion of the Forum youth examined seven sectors of the agricultural value chain and looked at how they could become involved, what would motivate them to get started and what critical needs had to be addressed to facilitate greater participation by youth in these sectors.
Product/Service Marketing
This portion of the agricultural value chain can be very exciting and attractive to young people. It is an avenue that allows for creative expression and the use of social media platforms and exciting new communication technologies. It is also a sector that is more open to youth that don’t have a background in agriculture because their skills in marketing, chain development and innovation can be adapted from one industry to another and don’t require specific agricultural knowledge.

Small Equipment Sales and Service
There is a high demand for support in this area at the primary production level in most countries in the Caribbean, and the promise of steady work can be very attractive for young people struggling to find a job. This sector is also accessible to youth without a background in agriculture. Skills in sales, mechanics and engineering can be applied to the agriculture sector quite easily.
Small and Micro Manufacturing
This sector of the value chain provides an opportunity for youth to support the agri-food industry at the cottage and small manufacturing level. It offers them the chance to work with women producers, small processor associations and farmers networks; to assist them in building a strong, viable business. Working in this type of industry also offers youth the flexibility to be more creative and share their innovative ideas to help others.
Input Procurement Management
This is a complex and critical element of the agricultural value chain. Obtaining quality inputs in a timely manner is vital to the successful market entry and growth of any agri-food business. There is a steep learning curve when starting in this sector but many young people will appreciate the challenge and tackle the role with passion.
Product/Service/Business Analysis
These skills are required in the management of any business. Agriculture is no exception. Collecting, analyzing, understanding and reporting on data in a meaningful way will go a long way in supporting successful business start-ups and growing existing businesses. Analytics skills are practical, marketable and relevant in today’s business world. These are all elements which will attract young people to these roles.
Business Management
Much like analytics, business management skills are required to run any business. Increasingly, the world of agriculture is seeing the need to run their farms like a business and therefore they are looking for market services and support agencies to help. By joining the world of agriculture in the area of business management, youth have the opportunity to help the wider community and the Region.
Research and Development
The new reality for agricultural producers is that they must keep up with the latest in technology and good practices in order to be competitive in both local and global markets. R&D is an essential part of the business of agriculture and provides an interesting and challenging arena for youth where they can share and validate their knowledge and experiences, and again, help the wider community and the Region.
Key Outcomes:
During the discussions youth identified several critical needs which must be addressed in each area. In all areas, capacity building was noted as a high priority. Youth are ready, willing and able to learn, they just need to be provided with the opportunity.
They would like to see support offered for training in marketing, specifically graphic design, marketing strategy development and collaborative marketing. They are also interested in hands-on training in the effective use and maintenance of small equipment and the use of suitable technology. In the area of business skills, youth noted the need for further education in business analysis, performance indicator setting, cash flow and cost management, and self-financing.
Access to financing was also noted as a problem in most areas. To start up a label business to support marketing or a maintenance business to service small equipment, financing is required for equipment, tools, office space and more. This is a significant challenge for youth who have little or no collateral to offer financing institutions.
Lastly, in the area of Research and Development, the youth are looking for a voice. They are requesting closer collaboration with institutions that will access youth producers to help define research agendas and methodologies. They would also like to see remunerative arrangements where youth research investments are compensated.
Key Support Needs for Youth and Proposed Interventions
Through the sharing of experiences and challenges and open idea exchanges at the forum some key support needs for youth in agriculture were identified. Following the forum, the PMU reviewed the proceedings and made recommendations on support to be provided by key institutions based on prior discussions with representatives from those institutions.
Business Development Guidance
This area of focus was at the top of the list of requests for support from youth. This area covers a wide array of topics from marketing and packaging to financing and regulations.
Proposed Collaborative Activities:
The CARICOM Secretariat’s Creativity in Employment and Business Opportunity (CEBO) training programme should form the base for addressing this key support need. This should be complemented by existing youth entrepreneurship programmes and agencies, including the Caribbean Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Livelihoods’ (COESL) entrepreneurship training programme. It was also proposed that the programme be rolled-out in selected countries
Input Procurement
This area of focus will be a key element to the success of the agri-food processing business. Preparing youth with the skills necessary to support this sector is a central area for attention. Importantly, the focus should not only be on procuring inputs, but also on developing and/or adapting new and home-grown inputs that are appropriate to the needs of small producers. Some good examples in Saint Lucia of youth innovation in formulating and producing inputs for the farm sector were highlighted to show that these possibilities do in fact exist and can be taken advantage of by youth.
Proposed Collaborative Activities:
Development agencies, including IICA, CTA and FAO, should build on the momentum of the YiA. They should collaborate to conduct an assessment of the requirements for procurement of inputs for specific value chains and highlight best practices from youth enterprises. This can be done most strategically in stages and best practices should be highlighted on the proposed youth information portal (CTA youth project).
Marketing Strategy and Product Development
Young people in the Caribbean have unique and creative ideas as to how to enter agriculture and agro-processing businesses and markets. In order to give them the best start they will require assistance to develop and test innovative marketing ideas and strategies, in addition to product improvements that include packaging and labelling.
Proposed Collaborative Activities:
Direct support to youth enterprises through traditional training workshops should continue, but must be complemented with improved access to experts and relevant information on a timely basis to make products market ready. The support started under Component 3 of the APP needs to be built on, institutionalized and expanded.
Navigating the Local Business Environment for Start-Up and Business Development
Having a creative mind and a good idea is one thing but making that idea work in today’s business environment can be challenging. Young people want to be prepared to tackle the challenges that could come their way when staring up a new business and making it grow.
Proposed Collaborative Activities:
This focus area is receiving support from a CTA youth project where information products will be developed and made available through a proposed website to support youth in their business endeavors in the agriculture industry.
Youth-mandated Action to Support Youth Entrepreneurship and Proposed Interventions
The youth in attendance at the YiA Business Forum had their own ideas about what could be done to help them become successful agripreneurs. They identified Enterprise Facilitation and Resource Mobilization as the keys areas of focus, with several important sub-elements and possible collaborative activities also being suggested.
Enterprise Facilitation – Regional Platform
A regional platform for youth entrepreneur connections and a virtual marketplace was proposed. It would be designed as an entrepreneur to entrepreneur resource centre.
Proposed Collaborative Activities:
This action will be supported under the Youth Projects being facilitated by the CTA and FAO.
Enterprise Facilitation – Streamlined Business Facilitation
Getting around the “red tape” of government procedures, processes and requirements can be very intimidating, time consuming and frustrating for young entrepreneurs. They are requesting assistance in the navigation of these processes to simplify and successfully complete administrative procedures when carrying out their required business.
Proposed Collaborative Activities:
Actions to support this area would include a case study and documentation of best practices in business facilitation, particularly for young entrepreneurs. . Evaluation at a regional level, with the view to making recommendations to address bottlenecks, would also need to be carried out.
Enterprise Facilitation – Improved Mechanisms for Adopting Research Findings
Excellent research is being carried out, both officially and at an independent farm and business levels, in Caribbean agriculture. Creative and innovative solutions to everyday problems are being tried and tested. Improved mechanisms for bringing these innovations to the forefront for wider use and adoption is required. Young people would also like to see a remunerative programme for R&D product development which will encourage further innovation.
Proposed Collaborative Activities:
The current contributions under Component 2 of the APP, supported by CARDI, will support this need. However, more outreach and engagement for research partnerships with youth enterprises will be needed.
Resource Mobilization – Youth-friendly financing
Actions in this area will focus on encouraging, supporting and enabling access to more youth-friendly financing and funding mechanisms.
Proposed Collaborative Activities:
Dialogue through seminars and hands-on engagement on Financing Youth Enterprises need to be available for young entrepreneurs. Such dialogue must facilitate exchange between the traditional and non-traditional financial institutions and established youth enterprises at the national level and should discuss appropriate financing programmes for youth enterprises and strategies for making small enterprises credit worthy.
Resource Mobilization – Develop Land Access Programmes
Access to good quality farmland in the Caribbean is limited. Young people who may be interested in agriculture may be dissuaded by the simple but crippling fact that they cannot secure land.
Proposed Collaborative Activities:
To address this problem, a pilot project called the Youth Land Lease Initiative needs to be explored. The aim would be to target retired farmers and others with properties for lease and pair them with interested youth through proper legal arrangements.
Resource Mobilization – National Marketing Facilitation
The market price received for a product can make or break an agricultural business. Negotiating those prices as an individual organization can be challenging.
Proposed Collaborative Activities:
Under the APP Component 1, the Caribbean AgriBusiness website, which includes a virtual market place, is a good starting point. This will facilitate marketing and promotion of products by young entrepreneurs throughout CARICOM.
9th Regional Planners Forum YiA sessions included:
Creating Youth Enabling Policy
Creativity in Employment and Business Opportunity Workshop
Creating Youth Enabling Policy
Building on what was accomplished at the YiA Business Forum during the D4D earlier in the year, participants reviewed the key support needs and youth mandated actions that were identified. After hearing from Diandra Rowe, a young Caribbean entrepreneur, about the greatest challenges and needs that she faced, forum participants discussed how policy could best assist young people in agriculture.
Key Discussion Outcomes:
Many of the issues facing youth in agriculture are also those faced by small entrepreneurs across the board. However, the forum acknowledged that youth represent an important demographic whose needs should be addressed in specific ways. Strong policy must be created to support youth and their entry into the agriculture sector. The need for rebranding, mentoring programmes, and youth-centered collaborative mechanisms were highlighted as important actions to take in attracting more youth to the industry.
Creativity in Employment and Business Opportunity Workshop
During the standard six-day CEBO training programme, participants set up and staff the commercial operations of simulated companies. They develop a basic business plan and create, market and sell products and services using seed money provided by the “Bank of CEBO”. At the end of the workshop, companies prepare a profit and loss statement, analyze their mistakes and successes and share profits. Continued support for promising CEBO graduates includes mentoring, internships, incubators, business plan development and business training.
The 9th RPF provided the platform to introduce a pilot workshop which explored the use of the CEBO methodology for the agriculture sector. In the first session, participants introduced themselves and stated their expectations for the workshop. Expectations included a better understanding of business practices and principles, network opportunities with other participants and benefit from the interaction with policy makers.
The Importance of Business Plans
A speed teaming exercise was carried out as part of the workshop. Groups were organized according to similar interests in the agricultural sector. Outlining the importance of the agri-value chain, facilitators encouraged participants to review their businesses and explore avenues for adding value and improving business processes. Similarly, participants were guided through the elements of business planning with a focus on making their business plans a living document. Some of the participants had plans, others did not. Of those who did, most of them were not using their plans as an operational tool.
A business plan template was circulated as a guide to assist participants in streamlining their business activities. The use and importance of a business plan were underscored and participants were encouraged to develop or upgrade their plans as this would provide the linkage between business and agriculture.

The Importance of the Pitch
At the end of Day One, participants were given an assignment to create an “Elevator Pitch”, with a maximum time limit of 60 seconds. The idea is that participants had met a potential, rich investor in an elevator and had one minute to pitch their business idea to secure investment. The activity focused on the ability of participants to summarize their businesses and pitch the key points. Public speaking skills were also discussed and participants received constructive criticism from their peers and feedback from facilitators.
The Importance of Marketing and Financial Management
Understanding the importance and elements of marketing was the focus of the next session. Issues such as distribution, packaging, market identification, networking and pricing were all discussed. Following that, facilitators focused on the items and systems required for successfully managing and operating a business such as record keeping, filing and collating receipts, invoices and monthly statements. Presenters also stressed the importance of making a profit over making money and the implications of successful business management.
This group also benefitted from a presentation from the CEO of the Agricultural Development Bank, Mr. Sheivan Ramnath. The presentation focused on criteria for access to credit and other products and services offered by the Bank. Based on questions from the participants, Mr. Ramnath said he would discuss with his board and explore avenues for granting credit to participants in other countries, especially where lending facilities for farmers are non-existent.
The Importance of a Plan…and a little bit of Creativity
Participants also worked on their ‘Vision 2030 for the CARICOM Agricultural Sector’. This was presented during the final session of the planners’ forum and included a song by one of the participants, Dujon Cesar, called “Going Green” and a popular dancehall video about breadfruit. The planners were invited to join with the youth and learn the “breadfruit” dance. This was a fun and enlightening session and other agencies have expressed interest in collaborating with the youth for promoting their agencies and or projects.
Breadfruit Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGdtxQM8TuI

The Final Assignment
This final assignment was geared towards providing participants with the opportunity to conceptualize, develop and present their business ideas to the “Bank” for investment. The “Bank” mobilized a panel of five experts that provided constructive criticism and fair and pointed feedback to the different business groups. Feedback was aimed at strengthening their business ideas and providing strategies for filling gaps where they were identified.
It is hoped that this simulative exercise helped bridge the gaps between agriculture and entrepreneurship for young agripreneurs. The preparatory process allowed participants to use the knowledge and skills that they learned in the sessions to develop their business plan and investment strategies. While most had in-depth knowledge of their product, they now see the value in focusing on taking their product to local and regional markets.
Key Outcomes:
Following the workshop, participants expressed satisfaction with the programme. It provided an opportunity for planners and young agripreneurs to experience the CEBO methodology and see how it can be successfully applied to agri-businesses in the Caribbean. During the workshop participants created their own CARICOM Agriculture Youth Vision (CAV 2030) and developed and presented three different investment plans.
The workshop illustrated that CEBO has the potential for engagement at the community, national and regional levels, while actively engaging stakeholders in the process. The CEBO team is cognizant of the work being done in the sector for youth agripreneurs and encourages further collaboration among partners in developing and executing Agri CEBOs regionally.
The following recommendations were borne out of this workshop to support and further improve future Agri CEBOs and, in general, to support youth in agriculture across the Caribbean:

Inclusion of site visits to successful farms, processing plants or other forms of Agri business, thereby exposing participants to either new or different strategies in successfully managing businesses.


Incorporate different levels of the programme and select participants based on their experience and expertise, thereby allowing participants without any or limited experience to work at their own pace. Participants with more experience can benefit from a more advance training.


Engage stakeholders in reviewing the existing CEBO manuals and adapting based on the needs and requirements of the young Agripreneurs.


Explore the use of the ‘Vision 2030’ plan as a reference document for young Agripreneurs interested in regional agricultural practices, trades and processes.


Create more opportunities for the young Agripreneurs to interact with the Planners and Policy makers.

YiA Business Forum Outputs:
The YiA Business Forum identified key areas of focus for development institutions, as well as avenues for collaboration among young entrepreneurs themselves, which could serve as a vehicle for business development and enhancement. Specifically, the forum identified
1.
areas in the value chain where youth can become involved support and where there is a need for greater facilitation,

2.
thematic areas for YiA enterprise development,

3.
key support needs of youth entrepreneurs, and

4.
youth-mandated Actions to Support youth entrepreneurship in 2016.
A major output of the forum was an outline of areas of focus for development programmes seeking to assist youth in developing their businesses. Consequently, development partners namely, APP PMU, IICA APP Component 3, CARICOM Secretariat, COESL, FAO and IICA Saint Lucia have collaborated in the development of strategic interventions to address issues raised.
The youth have also created a vibrant regional network to share ideas and facilitate business using social media via a WhatsApp chat group and Facebook.
Key Support Needs and Proposed Interventions:

Business Development Guidance–
Activities: CEBO and COESL entrepreneurship training


Institutions/Persons Responsible: CARICOM Secretariat, COESL, FAO, IICA/CTA Project, IICA APP-PMU

Input Procurement–
Activities: Requirements assessment for procurement of inputs for specific value chains; catalogue best practices from youth enterprises in this area


Institutions/Persons Responsible: IICA/CTA Project, IICA APP-PMU, IICA APP-Component 3

Marketing Strategy and Product Development–
Activities: Assistance to youth to make products market ready; develop evaluation criteria


Institutions/Persons Responsible: FAO, IICA APP-PMU, IICA APP-Component 3

Navigating Local Business Environment for Start-up and Business Development–
Activities: Develop information products and make them available through proposed website


Institutions/Persons Responsible: IICA/CTA Project
Youth-Mandated Actions to Support Youth Entrepreneurship:

Regional Platform for Youth–
Activities: Create and support a regional platform for youth entrepreneur connections and a virtual marketplace


Institutions/Persons Responsible: FAO, IICA/CTA Project

Streamlined Business Facilitation–
Activities: Carry out a case study and document best practices; evaluate regional bottlenecks


Institutions/Persons Responsible: IICA APP-PMU, FAO, COESL

Adoption of Research Findings–
Activities: Explore research partnerships with youth enterprises


Institutions/Persons Responsible: IICA APP-PMU

Youth-Mandated Actions to Support Youth Entrepreneurship: (Cont’d)

Youth-Friendly Financing–
Activities: Carry out a seminar to inform financial institutions and propose financing programmes for youth enterprises


Institutions/Persons Responsible: IICA APP-PMU, IICA APP-Component 3

Land Access Programmes–
Activities: Pilot Project – Youth Land Lease Initiative


Institutions/Persons Responsible: IICA APP-PMU, IICA Saint Lucia

National Marketing Facilitation–
Activities: Upgrade website to include a virtual marketplace accessible by youth enterprises


Institutions/Persons Responsible: IICA APP-PMU, CARICOM Secretariat – Component 1

Youth Engage Policy Planners at the 9th Regional Planners Forum, Trinidad and Tobago. (Photo: APP)

Goals of the CEBO:

To prevent and reduce levels of violence and crime in Member States through a cross-sectoral and multidisciplinary approach, focused on groups at risk of engaging in violent behaviour and criminal activities;


To enhance the capacity for sustainable livelihood among unattached youth in CARICOM Member States;


To promote entrepreneurship development as a priority for countering youth unemployment, mitigating drug abuse, crime and violence and fostering economic resilience in the region;


To improve social and economic inclusion/ development and resilience of out of school youth.

Learning Strategies Employed by the CEBO:

Participatory methodologies


Case reviews


Theoretical concepts


Hands-on engagement


Practice outputs


Team exercises


Knowledge sharing
Business Profiles Created at the AgriCEBO Workshop:

Strong Roots–
Mission Statement: We at Strong Roots are dedicated to the production of the highest quality herbal shampoos that aids in the rapid growth of strong luxurious hair while stimulating positive effects throughout the body. We pledge to never sacrifice excellence and to always seek to improve the lives of our customers through complete topical nutrition.


Promotion Strategies: Test samples, Social Media, Radio and Television Advertisements, Print Media


Start-Up Costs: $7950.00

Sacoco Ltd.–
Vision Statement: To become the leading producer of coconut products in the region.


Goals: Create employment for the region; Utilize indigenous resources available within our Region


Start-Up Summary: Sacoco’s start-up costs will include building materials, equipment and cost of material for the construction of the processing plant, Working capital, utilities, labour and miscellaneous expenses.

Connect Farm–
Executive Summary: Our Product seeks to supply farmers with data that is relevant to their primary production needs and link them to markets that enable them to source suppliers and bring their products to market. Our products fall into four main categories: Production, Meteorological Factors, Regional Data and Marketing.


Goals: Create employment for the region


Risks: Security, Power outage, Decline in farming activities, Lack of buy in from government, Telecommunications platform failure, Back up and offsite storage
Conclusion

Young people are the leaders, innovators and voice of the future for the Caribbean. The current employment situation for youth in the Region is challenging yet they want to work and have creative ideas to share. Agriculture could benefit greatly from the influence of young people. By providing them with support and facilitating their way into the industry, young agripreneurs could be a key to unlocking the potential for meeting regional food needs and making a Caribbean mark on the global food supply.
Understanding the needs of youth and putting resources in the right places is needed to make this happen. These Youth in Agriculture forums have provided a first step in the process and now governments, development organizations, financial institutions, private enterprises and the efforts of the youth themselves are needed to work together and keep the momentum going.

This series of project proceedings is produced under the Caribbean Action for the Agricultural Policy Programme (APP). The APP is funded under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) from the European Union and executed by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in collaboration with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the CARICOM Secretariat (CCS)/CARIFORUM.
This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union.

WP#13 10th Regional Planners Forum

APP Policy Brief No. 2

Intra-ACP Agriculture Policy Programme (APP) Caribbean Action, with funding
by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF)

This is the second in a series of four Policy Briefs produced under the Caribbean Action for the Agricultural Policy Programme (APP). The APP is funded under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) from the European Union and executed by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in collaboration with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the CARICOM Secretariat (CCS)/CARIFORUM.
This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union.
APP Policy Brief No. 2 • October 2016

1

Intra-ACP Agricultural Policy Programme (APP)

Improving Crop and Livestock Germplasm:
What, Why, How & What Next?

Working Together, CARIFORUM (CARICOM) Member States can make Valuable Strides toward Food and Nutrition Security through the use of Improved Germplasm

Key Messages:

Improved germplasm is one means of addressing crop and livestock productivity, climate change and pest and disease challenges of especially small and medium size farmers in the Caribbean.


The adoption of technologies and practices that foster development, conservation and use of better genetic material will help strengthen productive capacities, build resilience and create sustainable farming systems.


In order to effectively support a successful germplasm improvement programme across the Region, proper facilities, management protocols and effective institutions must be in place, technicians and farmers must be adequately trained and basic and applied research supported by appropriate commercial trials must be done for selected priority commodities.


Critically, arrangements must be made to have sufficient amounts of improved germplasm available to farmers which will require harmonization of standards and protocols for the creation and movement of such material into and within the region.

Contents

Key Messages


WHAT is improved plant and animal germplasm?


WHY is the Caribbean putting emphasis on improving plant and animal germplasm?


HOW is improved plant and animal germplasm being supported under the APP?


WHAT are the NEXT STEPS in improving plant and animal germplasm in the Caribbean?
Training on techniques involved in improving animal germplasm.

(Photo: CARDI)

Food and nutrition security is a condition under which adequate food (quantity, quality, safety, and sociocultural acceptability) is available and accessible for all and successfully utilized by all individuals, at all times, to live a healthy and happy life (Weingartner, 2010). This policy brief focuses on the use of improved germplasm to contribute to food and nutrition security in the Caribbean. With a medium term regional target of achieving 25% food and nutrition security, “clean” planting materials, improved varieties and better-quality breeding stock will be required.
This Brief has been completed based on APP actions to date, including studies on the harmonization of protocols for movement of plant and animal germplasm across the Caribbean Region, the experiences of Regional technicians receiving germplasm training in Fiji, and field trials and training to improve the transfer and adoption of improved germplasm production and utilisation technologies”
Some politicians have equated food and nutrition security as having the same significance as national security, yet food and nutrition security continues to be a major cause for concern in CARIFORUM countries. This is clearly illustrated by the continued lamentations of CARICOM member states’ about their increasing and substantial reliance on food imports. These imports are estimated at more than US$5 billion across the region annually, not to mention the steady increase in and volatility of food prices, and the decrease in investment in agriculture in the Region over the last decade.
Food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture are among the European Union’s (EU) top international development priorities. These priorities are reflected in the objectives and interventions of the Caribbean Action under the APP, which has placed emphasis on enhancing productivity of small and medium scale producers and entrepreneurs in CARIFORUM countries.
Increasing access to food products through more dynamic intra-regional trade in agricultural commodities is an important element of increased food and nutrition security in the Region. However, to foster more intra-regional trade, increased production in agriculture and food products is required, as well as improved quality and acceptability of both plant and animal products produced within the Region. These are essential elements of the import replacement strategy meant to tackle the high and rising food import bill.
Increased production of improved quality products starts on the farm, through the use of quality germplasm and the practices applied to its proper use and management. For these reasons, the APP, under Component 2, led by CARDI, includes actions that are focused on the improvement, multiplication and conservation of germplasm that is distributed and used in the Region.
WHAT is improved plant and animal germplasm?
In keeping with the focus of the CARDI work under the APP, ‘Germplasm’ can be described as ‘the living genetic resources, such as, seeds, animals or tissues, that are maintained for the purpose of animal and plant breeding, selection, propagation, preservation and other research uses (http://www.encyclo.co.uk/meaning-of-Germplasm).
For plants, according to the University of California Seed Biotechnology Centre, germplasm is the “living tissue from which new plants can be grown.” However, plant germplasm is not just seeds. It can be another part of the plant, such as a piece of the stem, pollen or even just a few cells, that can become a whole new plant. These tissues can be combined with tissues from another plant and because of meristem cells, the plant can grow all of the specialised cells that it needs to survive. Meristem cells are undifferentiated cells in the tissue of plants that can change into various organ cells required to keep the plant growing and healthy.
Germplasm breeding allows certain genes to be ‘knocked down’ by selectively adding desirable chromosomes from another plant to cancel out the useless or undesirable chromosomes of the first plant. This allows sensitive flora to become hardier. Improved plant germplasm is the plant material that has been scientifically engineered to be high yielding, disease and pest resistant or tolerant and adapted or resilient to the climate of the Region where it will be grown.

For animals, germplasm is a living, genetic resource from an animal, such as sperm, ova, embryos or even the animal itself. Like our own DNA, germplasm carries all of the genetic information which makes up the animal. According to J.E.O Rage, in his article, ‘Biotechnology options for improving livestock production in developing countries’, “improvement of livestock depends on access to genetic variation and effective methods for exploiting this variation. Genetic diversity constitutes a barrier against changes in the environment and is a key in selection and breeding for adaptability and production in a range of environments.”
This genetic diversity can be achieved through various means, such as artificial insemination of females with sperm from healthy male specimens from outside sources, embryo transfers from a genetically outstanding female donor to a female recipient, or the simple, natural breeding of female animals with genetically superior males from an outside source. Improved animal germplasm is the result of all of these practices which will lead to healthier and more productive animals and stronger livestock populations across the Region.
“Today we are seeing best practices in action,” said Rachel Kyte, the Vice President of the World Bank, at the 2012 G20 Conference in Mexico. “We know that, if scaled up with speed, these approaches (to improve food crop and livestock germplasm) could increase food production and improve livelihoods without damaging the environment. We need to create conditions for innovation and then invest so that innovation moves from the lab to the farmer’s fields.”
It is important to adopt this attitude when it comes to improving germplasm in the Caribbean. The adoption of technologies and practices that will foster better genetic material will help create robust and sustainable farming systems. It will strengthen the productive capacities of farmers, especially small and medium sized operators, through among other things, the provision and use of adequate, quality, resilient and improved plant varieties and animal species.
WHY is the Caribbean putting emphasis on improving plant and animal germplasm?
There are specific food crops and animals that have been prioritized under the APP for germplasm improvement. These are cassava, sweet potato, yam and dasheen, in the roots and tubers group; corn, beans and peas, in the grains and cereals group; hot pepper, in the herbs and spices group; and goat and sheep, in the small ruminant group. These plants and animals were chosen because they have a long history of production in the Region, satisfy local food preferences, have potential to reduce the food import bill, and provide important sources of income for farmers in the Region. The list of priority commodities for the Region also includes banana and plantain, as well as a range of organic vegetables, including produce grown in protected agriculture systems (enclosed structures and shade houses).

To Build Resilience to Climate Change
Most everyone now knows that climate change is not just about warmer temperatures. The effects of climate change are far-reaching, especially in the world of farming in the Caribbean.
Climate change has and will continue to impact water availability in the Caribbean, with longer periods of drought and changes in the timing of the wet and dry seasons. The change in seasonal peaks, as well as increased temperatures, leads to different pests and diseases which attack a commodity. An example of this was the recent massive outbreak of cassava hornworm (Errinyis ello) in Trinidad and Tobago after a prolonged drought. These types of incidents often lead to the use of different agri-chemicals to address the challenge. All of these factors put new and intense strain on a variety, which often leads to under-production or even crop failure. Consequently, improved plant germplasm needs to be carefully researched, developed and tested in different agro-ecological zones before being distributed in the Caribbean Region in order for crops to withstand these new challenges.

To Sustain Yields & Output under Increasingly Difficult Conditions
Component 2 of the APP is complementing CARDI’s mandate for the identification, selection, multiplication and distribution of appropriate varieties to the correct eco zones across the Caribbean. With higher quality and more resilient planting materials being used on a greater number of farms across the Region, an increase in production and productivity can be expected. This will result in the enhanced ability to support intra-regional trade and higher profits for farmers.
Farmers across the Region are already fully aware of what works best in their fields. They are indeed the experts. When conducting a baseline study on traditional knowledge under the APP, researchers found that there were many well-informed producers that were eager to share their suggestions on the best cultivars for their area.
There were comments like, “The white and purple fleshed sweet potato survive during the dry period but don’t produce well. Black Rock does better when the weather is cool, while Mandella and Little Leaf do well in the dry season”. The volunteered information was often accompanied by general guidelines as to how and where the material could be sourced and even a willingness to share the cultivars if asked, for example a drought tolerant corn in the Rupununi Savannahs of Guyana.
All of this is encouraging behaviour. Farmers appear ready and willing to share information and experiences on perceived improved and resilient germplasm with the wider farming community; to contribute to the ongoing efforts to improve productivity and increase yields/output in a more sustainable manner. While definitely a good start, success in sustaining yields under increasingly difficult conditions will require that these and other farmers have ready access to adequate amounts of quality planting material and animal breeding stock that can withstand the new environmental realities in order to produce a product that is profitable, either as a fresh or value-added product
.
Although not as extensive as crop agriculture, livestock production is taking off in the Caribbean, especially in the small ruminant industry, which is very appropriate for farming at the small and medium sized levels. For some time now, farmers in the Caribbean have been acutely aware of the importance of quality breeding stock to the productivity and profitability of small and medium sized operations. Baseline surveys conducted by C2 from late 2014 confirm that the inherent effects of inbreeding were not lost on the small ruminant producers that were interviewed. Eighty-five percent of respondents recognized the value of accessing their breeding stock off-farm. However, 49% of respondents also said they were unaware of the presence and availability of improved breeding stock and a little less than half of those farmers that knew about the improved breeds, actually obtained these pedigree animals. Those that did however, reported almost 99% satisfaction with the improved performance and increased profits that were gained through use of the improved stock.
There are approximately 2.5 and 3.5 million sheep and goats, respectively, in CARICOM countries within CARIFORUM. Small ruminants are an important agricultural commodity in the Region. Unfortunately, the Caribbean produces only 15% of the demand for small ruminant products. The majority of the demand is met by imports from New Zealand, the United States and Australia. Clearly, there is an opportunity for growth in production within the small ruminant market that will directly addresses concerns about food and nutrition security and increased food import costs in the Region. However, there are currently several constraints to expansion and development of the industry, as identified in the APP study, ‘Harmonization of Germplasm Movement – Animal.’ Challenges noted include, difficulty in obtaining appropriate breeding stock to upgrade and maintain the flocks; limited knowledge by farmers of good animal husbandry and Good Agricultural Practices when it comes to reproduction and breeding; and understaffed, underequipped and often unavailable veterinary laboratories to support healthy flocks. Improved germplasm can help in addressing the first challenge. However, for the full impact to be achieved, governments have to implement an integrated and holistic programme of farmer and technician training, result driven research and development and the upgrading of relevant physical facilities.
“It is no coincidence that in countries where agriculture has taken off there have been large investments in research and infrastructure”, said Kanayo Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) at the G20 Summit in Mexico. Research and investment in the infrastructure required for improving germplasm for both plants and animals is sure to benefit the Caribbean in the same way.
HOW is improved plant and animal germplasm being supported under APP?
The Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) has been working for some time with experts around the world who manage food crop and animal germplasm. Under the APP Component 2, CARDI is providing direct support to countries in building institutional and small farmer technical capacity to produce and sustain their own quality planting material. Multiplication units are being established both at agricultural stations and on farmer’s fields. Local farmers and other partners are being, or will be trained to manage these units, and are in the process of producing quality planting material that will be distributed to local producers.
They have identified the necessary steps involved in the process of improving genetic varieties. They are moving ahead accordingly, as summarized below.

By Improving Facilities for Acquiring and Producing Germplasm
In order to properly support a successful germplasm improvement programme across the Region, proper facilities must be in place. Once improved germplasm has been researched, developed and tested, it is time to make more. Multiplication units and conservation plots are very important for food and nutrition security in the Caribbean. They are good sources of approved, possibly certified, plant material for propagation which can be easily used to facilitate urgent production required for post-emergency recovery.
The availability of adequate quantities of improved varieties to farmers will require the development and introduction of high quality germplasm and its subsequent multiplication under controlled conditions. The production of animal germplasm and planting material calls for quality physical and technical resources. As a result, it is financially and technically prudent to have specialised regional centres that will supply material to Member States as required. Through the work of CARDI, recently enhanced by the APP, there have been significant and focused initiatives in countries across the Region to improve the facilities needed for acquiring and producing germplasm.
Examples by Commodity Group include:

Roots and Tubers: Weaning and hardening facilities and humidity bins to assist in the growth of plantlets were refurbished and upgraded in Antigua and Barbuda and St Vincent and the Grenadines. This will increase capacity for propagation of improved cassava planting material. Ppropagation structures for sweet potato were upgraded to increase production of planting material in Grenada, as well as demonstrate a water harvesting system in St. Kitts and Nevis. In Antigua and Barbuda, on the Betty Hope CARDI Field station, 65 sweet potato varieties are being maintained for both multiplication of planting material and research and validation under open field conditions.


Hot Pepper: To date, four accessions of hot pepper have been screened and selected for the ex-situ conservation plot, established as a germplasm bank, located at the CARDI field station in Barbados. These protected hot pepper plots will be used to produce seeds and establish more adapted varieties and new germplasm. The plot will continue to be maintained by CARDI at the end of the APP programme.


Bananas: Tissue culture facilities at the University of Suriname were refurbished, timers and misting systems were put in place and new lab equipment was purchased for plant tissue culture propagation testing and operations.


Small Ruminants: A centralized breeding goat house for farmers of the North Eastern Farmers Organisation in Grenada was upgraded, housing and forage delivery systems in Jamaica refurbished, and a small ruminant breeding facility in Guyana is under renovation.


Corn and Beans: The APP has supported expansion and maintenance of a gene bank for corn material in Belize. These ex-situ conservation plots are the only germplasm banks for corn in the Region. Improvements in the management of same, and research results generated, will be important for future research as well as for supply of improved planting material to local farmers and producers around the Region.


Multi-crops: The CARDI Field Station germplasm facility, at Dennery in Saint Lucia, is being refurbished and outfitted with propagation bins, a saran netting roof and a misting irrigation system. The structure will be used for propagation and multiplication of vegetables, tree crops, mainly passion fruit and wax apple, and root crops, particularly sweet potato and sweet cassava for the APP programme.
By Strengthening Arrangements for Acquiring and Producing Germplasm
With proper facilities in place, countries can move forward with confidence in the process of developing, multiplying and managing improved germplasm for both plants and animals. Consequently, the next step is to ensure that protocols are in place to simplify the movement of disease and pest free germplasm and planting material within the Region. To achieve this, receiving countries must be assured that their agriculture will not be compromised or threatened by the incoming material.

Under the APP, a consultancy was carried out to develop protocols to facilitate intraregional movement of improved plant material in such a way that it is acceptable to both the sending and receiving countries. The consultancy began by looking at existing standards and guidelines in various CARICOM countries, as well as examining the scientific principles associated with crop specific pests and diseases and the risks that they may pose. A review of the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs) pertaining to the movement of planting material, was also carried out.
A draft for possible protocols was developed and efforts are being made to obtain endorsement of these protocols by the Caribbean Plant Health Directors Forum (CPHDF) and the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA) for consideration as Regional standards and recognised by member countries. This will take time, however it is a necessary step in order to support a successful and safe germplasm improvement programme in the Caribbean.
An additional consultancy was commissioned under the APP to develop mechanisms to simplify the regulations governing the intraregional movement of live animals, embryos and semen. The first step in the consultancy was to collect and review existing national protocols. These protocols were then assessed to see if they were consistent with internationally accepted norms and if they could be used to develop harmonized regional policies. Once this was complete, protocols were recommended that, with minor adaptions, could be used by all Member States of CARIFORUM and represent a harmonized framework.
By Developing the Capacity of Institutions to Manage Improved Germplasm
The training of key institutions’ human resources is very important in the initiative to improve germplasm. Once sufficient facilities are in place and work has begun on creating acceptable protocols for the movement of germplasm, the next step is to ensure that competent and qualified human resources, along with certified institutions, are in place in the identified locales to support a programme to produce and propagate improved genetic material.
Under the APP, in early 2015, concerted effort was taken to develop capacity for the management and multiplication of germplasm by institutions, namely in:
1.
Jamaica (24-25 March): A workshop was conducted on production, processing and storage for breeders’ and the foundation and commercial seeds of hot pepper, maize, sorrel and pumpkin. These workshops were carried out by the CARDI Plant Breeder for technicians of the Ministry of Agriculture and students of the Ebony Park Heart Academy.

2.
St Vincent and the Grenadines (25-26 March): Twelve technicians from CARIFORUM countries were trained in weaning and hardening of tissue culture plantlets.
Also under the APP, two technicians from Ministries of Agriculture in Jamaica and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and one CARDI scientist, participated in an eight-week internship on improving germplasm in Suva, Fiji at the South Pacific Community (SPC) resource centre. Through lectures and laboratory and field activities, the trainees learned about plant breeding, including different evaluation methods used in assessing crops for tolerance to varied climatic factors, natural disasters and pests and diseases. They studied breeding and selection processes for desirable traits, as well as integrating livestock production with tree crop production. Participants visited both a soil regeneration and reforestation project designed to restore a soil’s biological and chemical properties, and farmer’s cooperatives to discuss models for cooperative quarantine, grading, certification and sorting services. They were also introduced to irrigation intervention, the use of low-tech mini nurseries and pot culture in mitigating risks of natural disasters, and the use of various ameliorants and fertilizers.
Another main focus of the internship was instruction on tissue culture techniques used in the growth and/or maintenance of disease free plant cells, tissues and organs for preservation and distribution to farmers. The overall process entails:
1.
Selection of healthy growing meristemic portions from respective crops.

2.
Cleaning and trimming down to sizeable portions for initiation.

3.
Placing plant excise in growing medium, in suitable vial and storing.

4.
Sub-culturing, which involves producing new plantlets by transferring some or all tissue from a previous culture to a fresh growth medium.
The Fiji trainees also learned about cryopreservation and DNA Extraction for exploitation and use at a later date. CARDI small ruminant breed improvement programmes have benefited from cryopreservation in the past where straws of semen and embryos were imported at various periods for artificial insemination (AI) and embryonic transfer (ET) in the form of cryopreserved material in liquid nitrogen. CARDI has also been actively engaging with centres of excellence in the United States of America, and some CGIAR Centres, for the cryopreservation of some hot pepper varieties and cultivars.
By Enhancing the Capacity of Small Producers to Develop, Multiply and Manage Their Own Improved Germplasm
Action under the APP seeks to help small and medium scale farmers to produce their own high quality planting material in a sustainable manner. Local farmers, including youth and women’s groups, have and will continue to receive tools, information and training to enhance their skills in multiplying and managing their own improved germplasm and propagation material, as well as the infrastructure to produce them.
Actions are underway in many CARIFORUM countries to move this initiative forward. In Grenada, a Saanen buck was purchased and provided for stud services to more than 60 does. The buck has been placed on a mother farm and the offspring will be distributed to over 40 individuals in the small ruminant producers group. Training will also be taking place shortly in the Dominican Republic under Component 2 of the APP and in cooperation with the Dominican Institute of Agricultural and Forestry Research (IDIAF). This training will focus on small ruminants and the subjects of breed management and embryonic transfer.

In Saint Lucia, sweet potato and cassava plantlets and cassava planting materials were distributed to various producer groups, including farmers in the Baboneau Cluster and, in the following months, training workshops were given to the same groups on cassava germplasm production. In Dominica, open-pollinated yellow corn and Red Kidney bean seeds, with the potential to establish 10 and 20 acres of production respectively, were distributed to farmers for post-Tropical Storm Erika recovery in two communities. The improved seeds will enhance food and income security, as well as assist in building self-reliance and resilience to any future disasters. Farmers will also be provided the technical support necessary to ensure that the fields are re-established using good agricultural practices.
The UWI Faculty of Science and Technology in Mona, Jamaica hosted a Research and Technology Day in early 2016. There, the opportunity was taken by CARDI to demonstrate and transfer knowledge, through research under C2, on the roots and tubers tissue culture propagation process. This included a public lecture on the weaning and hardening of tissue culture material, conducted by a CARDI Biotechnologist. A wide cross section of participants, including technical persons, extension personnel, technical staff of other research institutions and youth, were in attendance. The opportunity was also used to distribute planting material.

Practical hands-on and classroom training has also taken place in Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines for propagators, producers, producer groups and extension officers in the demonstration of the rapid multiplication of sweet potato and taro. This training built on previous training in General Production, Pest Management and Post-Harvest practices for taro and cassava production techniques.
In Suriname, plantain and cassava farmers were provided with training on the rapid multiplication of their crops using new methods. These methods will be used to develop improved germplasm and will be demonstrated to other farmers in the community. Research findings and training were also shared on the control of Leaf Cutter Ants that were causing huge losses to farmers and are now being controlled, and the selection of planting material that is free from frog skin disease.
It is these kinds of actions that are necessary to arm the first line of defence, that is, the farmers themselves, in the improved germplasm process.
By Validating Production, Productivity, Value-Add and Marketing Prospects of Selected Germplasm
Before too much time is invested in developing improved germplasm of a particular commodity, work needs to be done to ensure that it is the right commodity to support. Getting the right product with the desired characteristics to the consumer is about having the right variety to begin with. Research must be done to determine how well various varieties meet product requirements and if the product is even desirable at the fresh market or for processing into value added products. Then, once the right commodities are identified for improvement within selected markets, validation varietal and cultivar trials must take place.
Several validation trials are underway under Component 2 of the APP. These include a cassava validation trial in Trinidad, which is testing the adaptation to both the wet and dry seasons; three dasheen (taro) validations trials in Dominica using planting material from the local CARDI gene bank and two sweet potato validations for testing drought tolerance; eight sweet potato trials with five varieties using rain-fed techniques and drip irrigation in Jamaica; sweet potato validations in St. Vincent and the Grenadines which are focused on creating resilience in small farming systems for climate change impacts; corn and bean trials in Belize; and organic tomatoes under protected agriculture conditions in the Dominican Republic.
Similarly, on the animal side, a trial for small ruminants is underway in Jamaica, where animals from a previous project are participating in feeding trials to validate the use of local forages as de-wormers. On each site, fifteen weaner does were selected and treatments randomly assigned to groups. The remedies being used are herbs, including aloe vera, moringa, neem and garlic with benvet, which is the commercial dewormer used as the control. CARDI will augment this information with results from similar trials undertaken in Grenada and the Dominican Republic under Component 2. The results and recommendations from the research will also be shared and discussed with producers and disseminated to small ruminant farmers in Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean.
WHAT are the NEXT STEPS in the process of improving plant and animal germplasm in the Caribbean?
Much work has already been done by CARDI and further enhanced under the APP, to facilitate the use of better genetic materials for crops and livestock production in the Caribbean. CARDI is also involved in other germplasm projects and activities, namely:
1.
The 10th EDF project on regional food and nutrition security in the context of changing climate.

2.
The Caribbean Coconut Industry Development project, which has a major component on germplasm.
The final step in the process of having improved germplasm used as a tool to advance regional food and nutrition security is distribution of the superior genetic material to local farms. This activity requires the safe and acceptable distribution of improved materials to farmers within the community and the country, as well as those across the Region through local germplasm management facilities. However, the process is not as simple as just giving improved germplasm to farmers. There is first a need to ensure the protection of human, animal and plant life from the risk that can arise from the entry of new pests, diseases or disease carrying organisms which may be found in the germplasm. Accordingly, all germplasm earmarked for export should be indexed for known or suspected viruses and pests, and, in the case of animals, the same should apply to offspring of recently introduced breeding lines.
Furthering the Improvement of Plant Germplasm
The development of enhanced varieties that can (i) withstand the new environmental realities brought on by climate change and (ii) produce larger and healthier crops, may be achieved through improved plant germplasm. Recommendations for moving in this direction include:
1.
Create a complete set of production protocols that are available for utilization by all Member States. Currently, some Member States do not have established protocols.

2.
Simplify and harmonize protocols in all CARICOM countries for the timely and safe movement of clean planting material within the Region.

3.
Consider additional crops for further study that were flagged by some countries. These crops include rice, banana, plantain, pineapple, medicinal and culinary herbs and a range of vegetables, such as, carrot, onion, cucumber, christophine and tomato. Special attention should also be paid to organic production and protected agriculture.

4.
Revisit the 1990s Pest Quarantine (PQ) list of the Caribbean Plant Protection Commission (CPPC) with a view of adopting applicable organisms into their national quarantine lists and consider deleting those that have since spread throughout the Region.

5.
Enhance the national focal point contact listings and country willingness to report pests of quarantine concern to the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC).

6.
Require phytosanitary laboratories to conform to the standards of ISO/IEC 17025: 2005, “General requirements for testing and calibration laboratories”.

7.
Include aspects of the import or growth of living modified organisms (LMO) intended for food, feed or processing, in any harmonized regional revision of regulatory frameworks.
Furthering the Improvement of Animal Germplasm
The development of the small ruminant subsector in the Region would also be of significant benefit to small and medium scale farmers and vital to the enhancement of the Region’s food and nutrition security. For this to happen quality breeding stock must be made available. This can be achieved through the use of improved germplasm. Recommendations for moving in this direction include:
1.
Create a complete set of protocols for all Member States. Currently, some Member States do not have established protocols.

2.
Simplify and harmonize protocols in all CARICOM countries. Examples of such protocols would include harmonized:a.
conditions for controlling the importation of live animals, embryos and semen (mostly in relation to small ruminants), including certification, identification, and health standards and similarly, harmonized protocols for movement of said organisms throughout the Region

b.
testing standards before importation

c.
embarkation statements which require specific information that must be made available before animals, embryos or semen can leave the port
3.
Publish protocols on the relevant Government websites so that they are easily accessible. If possible, the application process to obtain a permit should be able to be completed on the website, including payment of any fees incurred.

4.
Establish dedicated breeding farms in selected Member States to produce improved quality animals for use throughout the Region

5.
Develop an integrated regional programme for research on forage for use by small ruminants and the local production of inputs, including crop residues, to make quality commercial feeds. The Region can no longer depend on imported production inputs and products which increase the cost of commercial feeds.

6.
Facilitate the continuation and improvement of artificial insemination projects that are ongoing throughout the Region. The full impact of these projects may not be seen for another five or so years but the long term results will be improved breeding rates and increased number of breeding stock.

7.
Encourage membership by all Member States in the World Organization on Animal Health (OIE). Currently only nine CARIFORUM countries are members of the OIE. Membership by all will ensure that a Caribbean technical perspective is provided as new standards are developed and existing ones rewritten. This is vital as these standards impact all, not only member, countries that trade in animal and animal by-products.

8.
Collaborate with the Chief Veterinarian Officers (CVOs) as a group to help them recognize the importance of improving animal germplasm in the strengthening of the subsector, the quality of rural life and the Region’s food and nutrition security. Request that they respond in a timelier manner to legitimate requests for information.
Going forward, CARDI is gearing up to begin a genomics programme to breed new germplasm or consolidate existing germplasm. With projects such as this and the recommendations noted, regional small and medium scale farmers would be able to expand their production base and target both national and regional markets, therefore improving the food and nutrition security situation across the Region.

Sweet potato conservation plot in Antigua

(Photo: CARDI)

Important terms to help understand the germplasm improvement process are:

Biotechnology, as described by J.E.O Rage, is a “means to address production constraints of small, medium scale or resource-poor farmers who contribute more than 70% of the food produced in developing countries”.


Cultivars and Varieties are not the same thing and the difference between them is one of derivation. A variety is a type of plant that arose in nature, while a cultivar is the result of human intervention. Human intervention can mean the simplest act of collecting the plant or its seeds and planting it elsewhere, but the existence of the plant is due to human effort.


Cryopreservation is the storage of biological material at an ultra-low temperature as a mechanism to prevent loss of a country’s vital germplasm material for both plants and animals


Ex situ conservation means “off-site conservation”. It is the process of protecting genetic resources, particularly endangered and/or very desirable species, outside of their natural habitats. This can be done by removing part of the population from a threatened and/or normal habitat and placing it in a new or protected location, such as gene banks (seed, sperm and ova banks), in vitro plant tissue and microbial culture collections.


Genomes are the complete set of chromosomes carried by a cell. Genomics is the study and exploitation of the Genome of an organism.


Multiplication is the overall process of developing, growing and distributing improved varieties.


Tissue culture is the growth of tissues or cells outside of the organism, in an artificial medium, under sterile conditions.


Weaning and hardening involves nursing young plants to prepare for final transplanting into their permanent (generally field) location.

WP#14 AgriMSME Working Capital

Intra-ACP Agriculture Policy Programme (APP) Caribbean Action, with funding
by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF)
1

APP Proceedings No. 14 • November 2016

Intra-ACP Agriculture Policy Programme (APP)

APP Proceedings No. 14

Getting Working Capital to Agri-MSMEs: Defining the opportunities,parameters and relationships

MSME Regional Working Capital Focus Group Workshop

Meeting Presenters

This Regional Working Capital Focus Group workshop was supported by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) as part of action under Component 3 of the APP. The workshop took place on August 10th and 11th in St. Michael, Barbados.
Dr. Basil Springer, Technical Facilitator, APP-PMU, IICA

The purpose of this workshop was to define the parameters of a commodity specific Working Capital Fund and foster engagement between agricultural producers and financial institutions (FIs). Participants included 17 individuals from across the Caribbean representing producer, agro-processing and women’s groups, development agencies and financial institutions.
Ms. Priscilla Torres, Representative, Wowetta Women Agro-Processors

Overview & Objectives
The Caribbean Action under the Agriculture Policy Programme, Component 3, seeks to support “Enterprise Development through Market Linkages.” One of the major actions planned to achieve this goal is to “enhance CARIFORUM Financial Service providers’ understanding of innovative agri-value chain financing schemes for MSMEs.
The Caribbean Farmers Network (CaFAN) has identified promising export and domestic market opportunities for roots and tubers and The Caribbean AgriBusiness Association (CABA) and the Caribbean Network of Rural Women Producers (CANROP) have identified domestic market opportunities for composite baked products using cassava. Both projects will require financial support.
The purpose of this workshop is to facilitate the engagement of producer, enterprise, women and youth groups with financial institutions (FIs) to develop financial mechanisms to strengthen these selected commodity value chains in the CARIFORUM Region.
The workshop also aims to assist in determining the scope, as well as quantitative, qualitative and operational aspects of a Working Capital Fund (WCF) programme for fresh sweet potato and the domestic production and marketing of cassava based value-added products.
Dr. Derrick Deslandes, President, College of Agriculture, Science & Education
Mr. Robert Reid, International Agribusiness and Trade Specialist, IICA

Ms. Leela Ramoutar, Deputy Programme Manager, Caribbean Community Secretariat (CCS)
Proceedings

Regional Working Capital Focus Group workshop sessions included:
Opening Session
Technical Session #1: Parameters of a Model: Agribusiness Type Working Capital Fund (WCF):
Review of Commodity and Product-specific Data and Identification of Information Gaps
The Roots and Tubers Industry: Prospects and Challenges of MSMEs
Technical Session #2: Perspectives – APP Stakeholders and Financial Institutions
Technical Session #3: Defining the Support Role, Capacity and Interface of Regional and National Financial Institutions and Policymakers
Technical Session #4: Design Model for of targeted Roots and Tubers Working Capital Fund
Technical Session #5: Working Group Recommendations
Closing Session

Background
Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) are said to account for 90% of businesses in the Caribbean. (SELA 2015) Many MSMEs are of vital importance to the Region however they are often unable to grow because they do not have “Working Capital” to fund their businesses between the time of when they provide service and when they get paid. This factor, combined with limited access to financing due to demand for collateral and limited suitable products for MSMEs, as well as high interest rates upon securing a loan, are hindering the success of these small but very important businesses.
In seeking to contribute to the dialogue and search for solutions, Component 3 of the APP has emphasized the need to document examples of good practices in financing schemes for MSMEs, and to foster engagement between agri-MSMEs and FIs, through:

A rapid assessment of CARIFORUM FIs (2015)


A Regional SME-FI Working Capital Development Meeting


A Working Capital Fund Study


Preparation of Enterprise Financial/Investment Profiles
Based on the 2015 rapid assessment of CARIFORUM FIs, several recommendations for moving forward were made including the need for a WCF as a pilot, associated with MSMEs in selected commodity chains. A regional strategy for building capacity among stakeholders in chain financing, managing working capital, strengthening credit worthiness and investment readiness were also recommended, as was the need to revisit the concept of shepherding as collateral, based on its potential to mitigate the risk of business failure and therefore assist in securing Working Capital Investments.
In terms of best practices in food value chain financing, the 2015 report recommended the services of The Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade (FAST) to improve credit readiness of MSMEs and the use of Factoring to provide access to greater working capital. The report also identified 30 pre-selected commodities and agri-businesses in 15 different CARIFORUM countries for further support.
In terms of building regional capacity, there was a general consensus that efforts should start at a national level with individual FIs and an innovative funding model, and then evolve into an approach that leads ultimately to a CARIFORUM Endowment Foundation. An APP beneficiary pilot project was also recommended and is planned for 2017.
With regards to this exercise, the methodology adopted was a 2-day Focus Group involving representatives from Credit Unions, Micro-Financing Services, MSMEs from the agricultural sector and the CARICOM Secretariat, to develop a model for the WCF to be presented at a follow up Regional Agri-Value Chain Financing Forum.
Parameters of a Model: Agribusiness Type Working Capital Fund (WCF)
A Working Capital Fund is established for the purpose of financing the operational activities of a business. Dr. Basil Springer, who facilitated the focus group meeting, presented the elements of a successful WCF to the participants of the focus group. He noted that a successful WCF will address good corporate governance, investment finance, marketing, operations and people development.
Corporate Governance of a WCF must consider all stakeholders. In the case of an agricultural WCF in the Caribbean, stakeholders would include FIs, value chain coordinators (VCC), agricultural MSMEs, buyers, input suppliers and shepherds, who include National Value Chain Facilitators (NVCFs) and Business Development Officers (BDOs), as well as the trainers of the shepherds. Meetings should be regular and stakeholder dialogue should be very open and inclusive in order for the governance of the WCF to be transparent and effective.
Corporate governance must also include a clearly defined business model. Dr. Springer presented the proposed model for the WCF to focus group participants. (see sidebar for details)

In terms of investment finance and security, an initial injection of development funding would be required to match the MSMEs own investments, including land, labour, savings, equipment and pack houses. The WCF would provide financing for operations.
Marketing of the WCF is also important. It would take into consideration the factors of customer relations management, public relations, marketing information to support production planning and production information for marketing planning. Importantly, expansion to other CARIFORUM countries could also be a major factor in its development.
WCF operations would need to address process flow, cost profiling, including overheads, profit projections, cash flow projections, administration and ICT costs and management accounting practices.
Lastly, and very importantly, a strong WCF must be based on strong and committed participants and therefore focus must be on people development, including training and motivation for VCCs, marketing resources, operational resources and shepherds.
Follow up Discussion Points and Outcomes:
The discussion spent some time focusing on, and clarifying the difference between, working capital and investment capital, and between shepherding and mentoring, as well as the importance of good governance of the fund and effective shepherding services. A shepherd was defined as a person who works with business advisors from several disciplines to then guide SMSEs toward fertile pastures and keep them from getting lost or venturing into risky areas, as opposed to mentors who act in a less structured manner as role models or quasi-therapists when needed.
The discussion also pointed to several key needs, the first being the need for fundamental and practical risk mitigating measures such as, buyer contracts, bio-safety measures, crop insurance, larceny control and improved post-harvest storage facilities to reduce loss of revenue. Coordination amongst all of the value chain stakeholders was also deemed as critical for the success of this model, and the suggestion was made that the financing needs of other entities in the chain be considered. Participants also requested clarity on how the financing mechanism would work on the ground and suggested that promoting the WCF would be of significant value.
As a result of this portion of the workshop, participants were able to gain an understanding of the basics of the WCF model that is being proposed and were better prepared to suggest improvements and additions from their perspective.
Review of Commodity and Product-specific Data and Identification of Information Gaps
After the presentation on the proposed WCF model, Robert Reid of IICA noted that they had only received feedback on production costs for two sweet potato and cassava operations. This basic information is required in order to determine the input, financial needs and production cycle of the producers. However, based on the limited information submitted for Saint Lucia and Jamaica, it was calculated that the operating cost for one acre of sweet potato could range between US$1,500 and 2,900 per acre.
Follow up Discussion Points and Outcomes
The commodity-based discussion focused on the challenges of calculating commodity production costs due to the usual limited availability of data. Participants also reviewed volumes of production required to meet market orders and the timing of crop cycles in order to schedule working capital needs. Issues surrounding price points and margins, as well as pack houses and storage facilities, were also deemed to be critical limitations that need to be addressed for successful introduction and operations of a WCF for agri-MSMEs. Participants agreed that among the list of important needs that must be addressed to move forward with the WCF, the two top runners must be MSME credit-readiness assessments and a regional repository for agricultural information that can be easily accessed by FIs.
The Roots and Tubers Industry: Prospects and Challenges of MSMEs
CaFAN and CABA have both been working on exciting prospects for the Roots and Tubers industry, led by sweet potato and cassava.
For sweet potato, CaFAN and the MoA Jamaica, completed two market assessments for the fresh commodity, both of which indicate significant consumer growth in Europe and North America. The studies also showed that the yellow flesh variety is particularly popular in that it has excellent health benefits.
For cassava, CABA is promoting the commodity as a healthy carbohydrate which is non-glutinous and a possible substitute for wheat flour in the production of baked products. A Trinidadian business has started commercial production of cassava bread which retails in MASSY stores and cassava is now being used as a substitute ingredient in the production of Red Stripe beer in Jamaica. However, while these are encouraging prospects, MSMEs working in this commodity are still challenged with several issues that need to be addressed.
Follow up Discussion Points and Outcomes
In response to the commodity-based presentations, FIs expressed the need for more precise information with regards to the production and market conditions for roots and tubers, sweet potato and cassava in particular. This type of information is necessary to assist them in moving ahead with confidence in developing financial instruments that support production and marketing of these commodities and their value-added products.
Participants also discussed the vast differences between producers and groups across the Region and hence the importance of matching the correct and complimentary buyers and FIs with each producer or producer group.
These open discussions will go a long way in ensuring the confidence of both MSMEs and FIs as this initiative moves forward.
Stakeholder Perspectives
Policy Makers, represented by Ms. Leela Ramoutar, from the Caribbean Community Secretariat (CCS):
Ms. Ramoutar expressed strongly that the proposal to establish a WCF “has to be sold to the regional policy-makers.” She also made mention of the CARICOM Development Fund, which is a regional financing institution that provides financial support to MSMEs and SMEs in disadvantaged countries and economic sectors.
Follow up Discussion Points and Outcomes
There was general agreement that strong political support from governments is a vital need to promote a favorable environment for SME financing operations in the CARIFORUM Region in order to support a successful WCF. In particular, the suggestion of the need for guaranteed financial systems as public policy tools to facilitate access to financing for SMEs was seen as critical, especially in the context of an inactive Guaranteed Fund within the financial portfolio of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). This led to calls to examine the experience and operations of the CARICOM Development Fund to learn from this experience. It is possible that some of their modes of operation could be incorporated into the implementation of a WCF for agri-SMEs.
On the issue of the support role, capacity and interface of the CDB and National Development Banks, participants were of the view that neither of these institutions contributed positively to improving agri-MSMEs access to working capital in the Region. It was also noted that commercial banks were not the first stop for agri-MSMEs seeking short term credit either due to strict pre-requisites and high interest rates.
A recommendation was made to advise CARICOM governments, through the Council for Economic Trade and Development (COTED), about the need to establish a WCF and obtain approval to pursue this action in collaboration with other entities such as, the CDB and CDF.
Financial Institutions, represented by the Credit Unions and Micro-Enterprise Institutions:
Credit Union representatives assured the focus group that the funds were available for loans to farmers who were saving members of the Credit Union. However, given the environmental and production risks inherent in the sector, they would require some level of guarantee and validated producer-buyer contracts.
The Caribbean Micro-Finance Alliance (CFMA) is prepared to work towards the establishment and promotion of a WCF. They feel that there is the beginnings of a good model. However, they highlighted the need to move from a conceptual framework to a more practical framework by identifying FIs and seed funds, and the pool of clientele, as well as computing returns on investment and defining administrative and operational procedures.
The representative for the Loan for Enterprise and Network Development Agency (LENDA) presented the agency’s approach to financing targeted community-based enterprises, which included the provision of assistance in loan applications, training and supervision, as well as flexibility of repayment. Two key items that he felt were important in the development of the WCF was to ensure that it was viewed as being led by the private sector and to fully embrace the action of the ‘shepherding’ of borrowers.
Follow up Discussion Points and Outcomes
A clear message from the FIs during this portion of the focus group was that they will be more pre-disposed to supporting agri-MSMEs and providing access to credit if there are guaranteed trusts or funds to cover credit risks, in full or part, on their financial assets. They also re-iterated the need for constant provision of information in regards to commodity production, market place competition, price points and cost structure margins in order to have confidence in their investments.
As a result of this session, all stakeholders now have a better idea of what it will take to bring Caribbean FIs on board to support the WCF model.
Defining the Support Role of Regional and National Financial Institutions and Policymakers
Dr. Derrick Deslandes, President of the College of Agriculture, Science and Education, provided insight into the onion and white potato import substitution programme being spearheaded by the Government of Jamaica through the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, in collaboration with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).
The programme was initiated based on Jamaica’s assessment of trade data, patterns of consumption and competitiveness of selected products and the desire to develop import substitutes for major fresh produce items that were identified during assessments. As sweet potato is seen as an excellent option for substitution, the challenges facing the production of increased yields of the commodity were discussed. Dr. Deslandes cited the need to introduce improved planting material, further develop irrigation practices and improve curing and storage facilities in order to increase yields and ensure limited post-harvest losses.
Rural Women Producers, represented by the Wowetta Women’s Agro-Processors Association in Guyana and the Trinidad and Tobago Network of Rural Women Producers:

Priscalla Torres of the Wowetta Women’s Agro-Processors Association in Guyana shared about the group’s initiative for working capital. The group has 53 members and has been in operation for the past 8 years. With a strong management team in place and 12 producers, they have recently built a factory and are producing cassava baked products and food preservatives that are sold to neighboring communities. They also have the goal of selling to MASSY Stores, which has recently opened two retail outlets in Guyana. They have a definite need for working capital to ensure continued operation and for additional capital to purchase a vehicle to transport goods to more distant markets.
Curtis Myers from the Caribbean Micro-Finance Alliance (CMFA) discussed his experience in working with the Trinidad and Tobago Network of Rural Women Producers (NRWPTT). He commended them for their governance structure and noted their plans to commercially produce cassava and mango related products. However, he noted that access to credit was a challenge for the group as they had no collateral. To date, they have been relying on grant support from IICA and other agencies, as well as APP support, with the provision of small industrial equipment and training in marketing, branding, packaging and good manufacturing practices.
Both women’s group have promising opportunities but also share the same challenge of being credit and investment-ready in order to gain access to working capital.
CaFAN National Value Chain Facilitators (NCVFs) also presented at the focus group and indicated that the producer groups that they worked with had very good relationships with the Credit Unions in their country. However, they also noted that many of the producers will need further guidance in good agricultural practices, record keeping and finance to purchase improved planting material and irrigation equipment in order to move ahead successfully.
Follow up Discussion Points and Outcomes
Discussions focused on what actions were required to further engender FI support for projects such as these. The need for FIs to assist prospective agri-MSME borrowers with the preparation of documents for loan applications was identified. The establishment of a multi-stakeholder platform to foster engagement and improved relationships between agri-MSMEs and FIs, as well promote the adoption of best practices and innovative approaches to agribusiness financing was also seen as essential to the process. It was agreed that National Commercial banks in the CARIFORUM Region should be included in future dialogue forums on these matters and incentives should be developed and promoted to encourage their involvement in the medium to long term.
Design Model for a Targeted Roots and Tubers Working Capital Fund
The Roots & Tubers commodity value chain was used to work through the elements of the proposed WCF. In exploring the model, Dr. Springer suggested that the WCF be managed by an existing domestic FI, preferably Credit Unions and/or Micro-Finance institutions, as they are seemingly more inclined to supporting CARIFORUM agricultural producers and enterprises. However, looking to the future, there may be the possibility of the WCF evolving into a composite fund of FI investors with an independent Fund manager.
Dr. Springer also shared a few key features of the proposed model. First, any commodity producer groups receiving credit would have to be deemed “credit-ready”, which would include verifiable legal status, a good governance structure and production and sales records. They would also have to have a ‘shepherd’ in place to assist in the preparation of production plans and the identification of inputs and working capital needs. The shepherds could be designated as NVCFs, who themselves would have to be properly trained.
A VCC would also have to be in place to negotiate formal contracts with commodity buyers. The VCC would interface with the shepherd and managers of the WCF to advance the necessary funds for input and service suppliers. Producers would then be expected to implement day-to-day, good agricultural and manufacturing practices, proper post-harvest handling and efficient and effective packaging and shipping operations that would ensure delivery of the commodity as per the contract.
For the purpose of ensuring a high-level of coordination and transparency, a Joint Venture Company (JVC) would be established to manage the WCF and VCCs.
Initially, it is suggested that National Governments, via the MoAs, should be coopted to secure sources of development funds which will cover the costs for training NVCFs, or shepherds, accessing and gathering marketing information for production planning and production information for marketing planning. It was also suggested that the CDB and Regional and International FIs also be approached to provide grant funds.
In each CARIFORUM country, it is proposed that a national public-private partnership entity, called the National Agricultural Trading Trust (NATT), also be established as a policy think-tank to stimulate the growth of the WCF. Through public relations and the sharing of success stories, it is envisioned that this strategy would attract more FIs to use the WCF model.
Follow up Discussion Points and Outcomes
Some concerns and several points to be emphasized for importance were brought up after Dr. Springer’s presentation. Clarity was requested on the role of VCCs as technical advisors and not handlers of cash and, the importance of formal contracts with buyers and risk mitigation or reduction measures were reiterated. Also, in order to ensure success, participants agreed that the WCF model should be endorsed at the regional policy level and implemented at the national level in order to have impact.

Working Group Recommendations
During this session, participants were put into three working groups to each:

Examine the relationships between MSME FIs, particularly in the country Credit Unions and Micro-Finance Institutions and Development Banks


Determine how those relationships can be improved


Determine the role of the Development Bank/CDB in the establishing of the WCF and,


Identify concerns with regards to the WCF
Follow up Discussion Points and Outcomes
The working group session resulted in a list of both concerns and needs for further action in order to move forward successfully. The suggested actions included:

Creation of a dedicated pool of technical persons to build capacity of producer groups in their financial literacy and management skills, and also monitor their use of funds and overall performance


Provision of funds for agri-MSMEs for capital investments (eg. storage facilities, irrigation, processing equipment)


Support of pilot projects and promotion of best practices in agri-MSME value chain financing


Solicit buy-in from farmers, buyers, input suppliers and agricultural support institutions of the WCF and its application to commodity specific value chain development programmes

Working capital refers to the deployment of financial resources in the day-to-day business operations. Investing in working capital involves acquiring short-term assets and incurring short-term liabilities. (www.smallbusiness.com)
Expectations from the Working Capital Focus Groups Sessions:
1.
Examination of the parameters for a model Working Capital Fund.

2.
Review of the commodity specific qualitative and quantitative data.

3.
Identification of information gaps.

4.
Solicitation of the perspectives of FIs and APP beneficiary stakeholders.

5.
Definition of the support role, capacity and interface of regional and national FIs.

6.
Design of a model of a targeted Working Capital Fund (WCF) to support MSME enterprises involved in Roots and Tubers value chain initiatives being spearheaded by APP beneficiary organizations.

7.
Generation of recommendations in regards to the scope, parameters and operational elements of the WCF.
Shepherding is that act of guiding to facilitate:

Mind-set change


Skill-set change in management of business systems


Cross cultural communication change
Factoring is a financial transaction and a type of debtor finance in which a business sells its accounts receivable (i.e., invoices) to a third party (called a factor) at a discount.(www.wikipedia.com). FactorPlus has been investigated for engagement in Caribbean agricultural. It is an organization that offers a micro-factoring product that provides immediate cash flow, limited credit risk collection and debt management by buying small invoices from businesses. The participating company receives 80% of the value of invoice and the remaining 20% is paid, minus the factoring fee of about 5%, at time of receipt of funds from the purchaser.
The Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade (FAST) is Canadian organization that works with MSMEs to facilitate their access to financing. They identify credit needs, promote tools to improve their readiness to access credit, pair the most suitable financial institution to the particular MSME, and carry out follow up action to ensure that the MSME is successful in getting a loan.
Proposed Business Model for WCF:
1.
Buyer orders from VCC

2.
VCC selects Shepherds

3.
VCC outsources Shepherds’ training

4.
VCC trains Shepherds

5.
VCC assigns Shepherds to MSMEs

6.
VCC contracts with MSMEs to produce

7.
Shepherds liaise with MSMEs re input needs

8.
Shepherds advise VCC of input needs

9.
VCC orders inputs from suppliers

10.
WCF pays input suppliers on VCC’s advice

11.
Suppliers deliver to MSMEs

12.
MSMEs grow crop and deliver to VCC

13.
Shepherds monitor crop

14.
VCC ships crop to buyer

15.
Buyer pays CIF to WCF/VCC

16.
WCF/VCC repays WCF advances

17.
WCF/VCC pays Shepherds

18.
WCF/VCC pays VCC fee and overheads

19.
WCF/VCC pays MSME

20.
Shepherds feedback to VCC

21.
VCC feeds back to system
Fixed capital investments represent the acquisition and maintenance of long-term assets. A fixed capital investment can be tangible asset, such as a building, or an intangible asset, such as an intellectual property.
Challenges for MSMEs in the Roots & Tubers Industry:

Access to varieties that will increase their yields


Pest and disease control


Procuring equipment for irrigation


Harvesting and post-harvest loss control


Obtaining GAP certifications required for access to up market and export segments


Accessing working capital needed to procure planting material and other production inputs in a timely manner
Institutions Represented During Focus Group Formal and Informal Discussions:

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)


Caribbean Farmers Network (CaFAN)


Wowetta Women’s Agro-Processors Association


Caribbean Community Secretariat (CCS)


College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE), Jamaica


Caribbean Micro-Finance Alliance (CMFA)


St. Elizabeth’s Credit Union Coop


Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions (CCCU)


Loan for Enterprise and Network Development Agency (LENDA)


Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA)
Actions required to strengthen the Roots and Tubers Sector and engender FI support:

Improve planting material


Foster proper production and post-harvest infrastructure and further development


Create cooperatives to pool resources and acquire technical assistance


Provide more information on the individual farmer for better decision making on behalf of the FIs


Encourage Global GAP certification to open up greater access to markets


Support financial literacy and record keeping training


Promote the adoption of Good Agricultural and Manufacturing practices


Highlight the progress of the CANROP-affiliated women’s groups in Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago
Areas of Concern about Development Banks as support mechanisms for Agri-SMEs:

Significant bureaucracy


Untimeliness in the delivery of services


Lack of proper operational oversight
Five Business Systems of the WCF Design Model:

Corporate Governance – WCFs foundation for business success


Investment Finance – WCFs financial security


Marketing – WCF’s life and vibrancy


Operations – WCF’s growth through profitability and return on investment


People Development – WCF’s ability to inspire the unlocking of human potential and become sustainable
Possible sources of seed funding for the WCF:

Credit Unions, using their own internal funds


Government, through development banks


Corporate entities that have a stake in rural communities


Commercial banks
It was noted that though Donor Agencies are rarely a source of working capital seed funds, they could provide loan funds to governments to support infrastructural asset development
Noted Concerns from Working Group Session:

Though the view of the Credit Unions relationships with agri-MSMEs was good, many participants held the view that the National Development Banks in some countries were difficult to work with


Little confidence was expressed in the ability of National Development Banks to support a well-managed WCF for agri-MSMEs


The difficulty in obtaining, and the insistence of the Credit Unions for, producer-buyer contracts


The on-going question of marketable quantities required to compete in the market


The need for a rapid change of mind-set and attitude required on the part of FIs and value chain stakeholders in order for this model to work
Robert Reid, sharing the plan at the MSME Working Capital Focus Group meeting. (Photo: APP)

Conclusion

Much work has been done by CaFAN, CABA and CANROP to source market opportunities and lay the groundwork for successful future business ventures tied to the Roots and Tubers industry. The APP has sought to strengthen the capacity of producer groups, make MSMEs credit-ready and improve GAPs and GMPs so that ventures such as these have a foundation for success. In order to move forward though, financing is required. According to Dr. Springer,”What we do know is that there is no shortage of money for enterprise development – the problem is accessing it. The barrier is perceived risk by the prospective investor.”
There is undisputable evidence that agri-MSMEs in the Caribbean have struggled to gain access to the working capital needed to grow and even survive due to the risk concerns associated with the industry. With proper production and processing training, dedicated shepherding, value chain enhancements, producer-buyer contracts and good governance, the hope is to address those concerns and relieve the FIs reluctance to become involved.
More work is yet to be done to fill in the practical framework for the WCF. Valid and reliable production data and market and financial information must be collected, and relationships between FIs and agri-MSMES must be improved. Promotional campaigns need to be planned and executed to gain formal support around the Region, and to engage more FIs. However, stakeholders can and do see a plan coming together. If they continue to collaborate for the good of all, the agri-MSME WCF could soon be an exciting reality for the future of the agricultural industry in the Region.

This series of project proceedings is produced under the Caribbean Action for the Agricultural Policy Programme (APP). The APP is funded under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) from the European Union and executed by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in collaboration with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the CARICOM Secretariat (CCS)/CARIFORUM.
This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union.

WP#16 Financing AgriMSMEs

Intra-ACP Agriculture Policy Programme (APP) Caribbean Action, with funding
by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF)
1

APP Proceedings No. 16 • November 2016

Intra-ACP Agriculture Policy Programme (APP)

APP Proceedings No. 16

Sharing Perspectives and Building Relationships Paving the Way for Improved Agri-MSME Access to Financing

Regional Forum on Financing MSMEs in Agri-Value Chains

Meeting Presenters

This Regional Forum on Financing MSMEs in Agri-Value Chains was hosted by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) as part of action under Component 3 of the APP with support from the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA). The workshop took place on September 26th and 27th in Kingston, Jamaica.
Ramesh Persaud, Caribbean Micro Finance Alliance (CMFA)
Napolioni Batimala, Chief Executive Officer, Merchant Finance Limited, Fiji

The purpose of this forum was to further facilitate engagement of Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) in agriculture with domestic financial institutions (FIs) for the purpose of increasing MSME access to credit. Participants included 58 individuals from seven CARIFORUM countries representing producer, agro-processing and women’s groups, development agencies, financial institutions and private sector businesses with interests in agriculture and finance.
Aaron Moses, Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions (CCCU)

Overview & Objectives
The Caribbean Action under the Agriculture Policy Programme (APP), Component 3, seeks to support “Enterprise Development through Market Linkages.” One of the major actions planned to achieve this goal is to “enhance CARIFORUM Financial Service providers’ understanding of innovative agri-value chain financing schemes for MSMEs” in order to enhance MSME access to credit.
The primary objectives of this particular forum were to:

Showcase success stories of agri-value chain financing for MSMEs in order to illustrate promising possibilities to financial institutions (FIs);


Arrive at a consensus on reducing the risks involved with lending to the agricultural sector;


Initiate face-to-face engagement between MSMEs and financiers; and,


Activate a platform aimed at driving policy and programme development in the area of financing agri-value chains.
The European Union (EU), under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) and through the work of the APP, has contributed significant financial resources to improve regional food and nutrition security and reduce poverty levels. However, without access to financing for agricultural producers and agro-processors, much of the on-going development projects in agricultural will carry little weight. Agri-MSMEs need access to funds in order to move forward, with the outcomes of this forum providing critical input to the process.

Michael Callendar, Loan for Enterprise and Network Development Agency (LENDA)
Ainina Aidara, Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade (FAST)

Hugh Gentles, Potato & Onion Producers Association

Janneth Mornan-Green, APP Experience Capitalization Consultant

Julio Ortiz, Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade (FAST)
Dr. Basil Springer, Independent Management and Financial Consultant

Proceedings

Regional Agri-Value Chain Finance Forum sessions included:
Opening Session
Technical Session #1: Knowledge Management – Parts One and Two
Technical Session #2: Financier’s Proposals
Technical Session #3: SME Proposals
Technical Session #4: Financial Institution – SME Engagement
Closing Session

Knowledge Management – Part One
This purpose of this session was to examine experiences of value-chain financing for MSMEs in the Caribbean, as well as mechanisms to improve MSME access to working capital financing. The medium for presentation were videos about value-chain experiences and included several initiatives:
Jamaica Case Study: In Jamaica, government-led programmes are aimed at increasing domestic production for replacement of high-value imports. In this particular case, it is for the Irish potato and white onion. This financing project involves crop lien loans, which provide working capital to farmers, through Credit Unions, People’s Cooperative Banks and buyers, coupled with buyer’s marketing contracts and government technical and marketing assistance. Upon the sale of the crop, the buyer recovers their initial input investment, pays the financial institution and the balance is paid to the farmer.
Saint Lucia Case Study: This programme boasts collaboration among Consolidated Foods Ltd. (MASSY Stores), the Credit Union and the Belle Vue Farmers’ Cooperative. Under this scenario, MASSY provides interest and collateral-free funding to cover inputs (except labour) to farmers who have been supplying the stores for a minimum of two years. The Credit Union also supplies loans, as well as managerial support to the Cooperative. The Cooperative acts as a link between the Credit Union, the farmers and the MASSY Stores, and maintains a savings reserve for the farmers.
The Fiji Experience: In Fiji, Merchant Finance Limited has provided a new agri-trade finance service under which security for the loan product is based on consistent transactions over a three to six month period with a buyer or exporter. A marketing contract is viewed as an excellent addition a businesses’ security qualification however, it is not required. Repayment of loans are arranged within 90 to 180 days, or to match the maturity cycle of the commodity. The credit institution is also seeking to fund the entire supply chain in order to strengthen the entire process. It leverages the fact that these entities are already clients of the institution for asset financing, which strengthens coordination of the agri-trade loan.
The FAST Experience: The Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade (FAST) is a non-profit organization that uses an MSME credit-readiness and MSME-lender matchmaking methodology to improve an MSMEs’ ability to access credit. FAST has partnered with the APP to apply their methodology to over 40 Caribbean MSMEs, from which three businesses were selected to move on to the investment phase.
Proposed Working Capital Fund (WCF): This initiative seeks to set up an agri-WCF to operate as an advance to beneficiaries, rather than a loan, with a fee charged for the service instead of interest. The end goal of the fund is to strengthen beneficiaries towards becoming clients of the traditional financial sector. The proposal focuses on “shepherding” of MSMEs as a risk mitigation measure to be viewed by financial institutions (FIs) as collateral to be used for loan acquisition.
Follow up Recommendations and Outcomes:
The outcomes of these discussions offered several suggestions and recommendations to facilitate the continuation of these and other successful initiatives to increase MSME access to financing, including:

Making the two experience capitalization videos and case studies fully available to FIs as a means of improving their understanding about agricultural production and the possibilities for financing within the framework of a commodity value chain approach to competitive agribusiness development.


Introducing capacity building initiatives to improve the financial literacy and record keeping of MSMEs, which will in turn enhance their credit-readiness and opportunities to attract investments.


Continuing collaborative efforts towards the full development and implementation of a WCF pilot project based on the proposed recommendations and strategies to mitigate the initial establishment challenges and operational risks

Knowledge Management – Part Two
During this session participants visited a small farming enterprise in the parish of Manchester where Irish and sweet potatoes are grown on approximately 14 acres. The farmer confirmed that in the past, he obtained working capital by either receiving seeds and fertilizer from the buyer, who subsequently takes out the cost of inputs when payment is made to the farmer for supply of the crop, or borrowing from local institutions at very high interest rates.

The farmer noted positive aspects of the Jamaican programme for Irish potatoes however, he also noted that he would like to see a longer loan repayment period, perhaps up to two years. This would allow him to recover from any crop failures by going through another crop cycle. He has experienced crop failures in the past due to drought, which caused him difficulty in repaying buyers.
Follow up Recommendations and Outcomes:
Following this session, it was recommended that the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) collaborate with the Development Bank of Jamaica and the Credit Union to assist this farmer, along with others in his producer group, to access short-term working capital needed to install irrigation systems to increase productivity and profitability and stabilize farm incomes.
The representatives of the Development Bank of Jamaica also took this opportunity to announce a voucher programme wherein a grant is provided to cover the cost of doing business plans, accounts, marketing, etc., all aimed at assisting entrepreneurs to get ready to access loans.

Financiers’ Proposals
This session was intended to showcase workable proposals for improving access to finance for sustainable commodity value chain and agribusiness development. The panel for the session included representatives from the Credit Union, private corporate loan programmes, micro-finance organizations and service providers. Presentations were also made, one of which demonstrated the ‘shepherding’ concept, and the other, an elaboration on the FAST credit-readiness and matchmaking process.
Participants of his session heard about the history of Credit Unions in rural communities and their efforts to fill gaps where other financial institutions have withdrawn. However, as noted by the Credit Union representative, the movement still faces challenges such as, meeting new financial regulations and educating members to overcome financial illiteracy.
The successes of the Mayaro Initiative for Private Enterprise Development (MIPED) and Loans for Enterprise and Network Development (LEND) were also discussed. These are private micro and small business development finance agencies that are funded by oil and energy companies operating in Trinidad and Tobago. The agencies lend to farmers and other MSMEs. Emphasis for these loans is place on flexibility, and support is provided in the field to mentor borrowers, somewhat like the shepherding processes suggested by the proposed WCF. Through a revolving loan programme over a 12-year period, MIPED has turned the original $TT 7.2 million investment into $TT 84 million and has provided loans to approximately 3800 persons.
The Institute of Private Enterprise Development (IPED) is another example of a successful initiative to supply financing to MSMEs. IPED researches common commodities so that its officers can provide relevant information to farmers and monitor loans accordingly. IPED’s current loan portfolio is US$13 million, of which 50% is loaned to agriculture.
Finally, the evolution of the FAST process and its successes were reviewed.
Follow up Recommendations and Outcomes:
The financiers’ presentations stimulated much discussion. The perception is that Credit Unions are becoming like commercial banks. The Credit Union representative acknowledged that they may have “diverted from their roots” however, this was necessary to meet the demands of their varied clientele and the new regulatory environment, which increasingly treats Credit Unions like other FIs. In response to these changes however, the Credit Union representative reassured participants that they are recognizing, once again, the specialized nature of facilitating business loans and are training their officers accordingly.
Also, during follow up discussions, the MSME Unit with the Jamaican Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF) announced that it is working with the Bank of Jamaica to amend its guidelines for what is accepted as collateral, and the IPED presenter, inspired by the field visit to the potato farm, announced that he will be proposing a micro-joint venture facility to his company for a new tranche of funding to be managed by IPED. The proposed facility will be a part-loan, part-equity investment based on profit sharing.
Further dialogue was encouraged with commercial banks to foster their engagement, as well as a proposed dialogue platform amongst Credit Unions, micro-finance institutions, corporate funding institutions and service providing non-profit institutions that are all reaching out to similar MSMEs. Under this platform they could promote common standards and new MSME value chain financing products.

SME Proposals
This session was designed to highlight the financing needs of agricultural enterprises and their experiences with respect to accessing financing, with a particular focus on young entrepreneurs.

Winston Laville is a young onion farmer in Antigua who runs a mechanized farming operation. He expressed his opinion that commercial banks did not have the capacity to review his agricultural business plans and he argued that agriculture is a science and therefore risks can be measured and mitigated. He suggested that a successful financial package for farmers would offer shorter approval periods, risk sharing, moratoriums and crop insurance.
Brent Eversly, co-owner and operator of Green Farm Nation Ltd., shared his experiences and challenges with obtaining financing as well. He related to participants his frustration with extremely extended approval periods for loans and subsequent market challenges that resulted in a non-payment of one of his loans. To save the enterprise from default and allow them to diversify their product, the existing owners had to bring on another partner and give up some of their equity. This was disappointing however, it resulted in the ability for them to continue the business.
According to Business Consultant, Yvonne Ellito Mattis, MSMEs require the support of people who can “sit and walk with them” and have an understanding of the varying and unique needs of the enterprises at different phases of the production cycle. She suggested a cycle of learning where the FIs learn from the MSME operators about the business of farming, and the MSME operators in turn learn about the financial dimensions of their business.
The practices of the Potato Onion Producers Association (POPA) were also reviewed during this session. They are a group of six Jamaican food importers/distributors, whose alliance was encouraged by the MoA as part of an effort to increase domestic production of onion and potato. The aim of the alliance was to ensure a consistent supply to buyers and pool resources for greater effectiveness. To date, this has been considered a fruitful initiative which could be expanded and further contribute to increased production in the two commodities.
Follow up Recommendations and Outcomes:
The concept and value of shepherding was discussed in-depth following the SME presentations. Many participants touted the importance of employing this approach to assist MSMEs going forward. Brent Eversley shared that he felt he would have reached much further had he had a ‘shepherd’, particularly with respect to research that took time and cost money. With regards to who should pay for the shepherding, Brent had several suggestions. He recommended that the farmers pay by including the costs in loan repayment or that lending institutions could pay since it helped them to recover their money, or perhaps the costs could be shared.
The value of credit readiness assessments were also discussed and participants were able to share opinions from the perspective of their roles in the value chain.
Financial Institution-SME Engagement
During this session, participants were organized into ‘country working groups’ to discuss the implementation of agricultural value chain financing schemes, and to consider specific initiatives to increase financial institution engagement with SMEs. A separate group was given the task of examining the way forward for the WCF.
Members of the Trinidad and Tobago working group deliberate on methods for establishing value chain financing. (Photo: APP)
Follow up Recommendations and Outcomes:
Saint Lucia: This working group recommended that the Belle Vue Farmers’ Cooperative, who had successfully passed the FAST credit-readiness assessment, seek access to working capital from the local Credit Union in a manner that is similar to the MASSY Store programme currently in place with respect to the supply of inputs and repayment for the same. It was also recommended that commercial banks be encouraged to join the process and engage in similar ways with other agri-MSMEs.
Jamaica: This working group recommended that the Development Bank of Jamaica work with Joe Text Bakery, through a micro-finance institution, to provide funding for the production of cassava baked products. They also recommended that St. Elizabeth Cooperative Credit Union carry out a pilot project with two cooperatives producing cassava and sweet potato, to support farmers through the entire crop cycle. The lessons learned could then encourage the development of both national and Caribbean wide programmes. They also cited several areas where further assistance could be gained such as, the Jamaica Business Fund, the Climate Smart funding agencies and shepherding services.
Trinidad and Tobago: This working group suggested that the WCF be established at a national level and be funded by government levies on imports of the particular commodity. They also noted that the fund should be available to players all along the commodity value chain, with the ultimate aim of generating exports of the commodity. They also expressed the need for dialogue platforms to review and agree on interest rates, guidelines and qualifying criteria for clients, mandatory training, reporting and auditing.
Antigua and Barbuda: This working group challenged the Credit Union representative in attendance with two MSMEs that had attained top grades in the FAST credit-readiness assessment. The representative admitted that perhaps they did not look at all of the pertinent facts when considering agri-MSMEs for financing and committed to returning to her Board of Directors to highlight the special needs of credit-ready assessed farmers.
Pacific Region: This working group recommended that the government provide financial support for start-up of a WCF and, based on the field trip, the need for an Infrastructure Fund was also suggested. This group also recognized the value of working with FAST and, on return to Fiji, they will begin research on companies that would be ready to enter the FAST system.
Working Capital Fund: This group suggested that stakeholders further develop a generic solution for a WCF and Infrastructure Fund throughout the Caribbean which would, in addition to shepherding, embrace other risk mitigation approaches such as crop insurance and guarantee schemes. They also recommended that the WCF be piloted in one country and for one commodity value chain.
Outcomes to Date of the highlighted Case Studies and Experiences:
Jamaica Case Study: This action has revitalized the local onion and white potato industry, increasing the involvement of farmers and other value chain stakeholders. There has been a significant reduction in the volume of these imports and an overall positive demonstration effect of showing what it means to have public and private sector partnerships, along with investment in MSMEs in the agriculture sector.
Saint Lucia Case Study: This action has resulted in an increase in the amount of produce purchased by MASSY Stores and the level of trust between farmers and the MASSY Stores, creating a strong basis for continuing and growing the programme.
FAST Experience: As previously noted, the FAST experience has resulted in three MSMEs moving on to the investment phase for financing. However, this experience has also highlighted the need for better financial literacy and strategic planning on the part of the MSMEs
Stakeholder Roles under the Proposed WCF:

National Agriculture Trading Trust for policy formulation


Value Chain Coordinators (VCCs) and Joint Venture Coordinators (JVCs) to coordinate the producers and buyers and provide high-level coordination between the value chain and the financiers to help mitigate risk


Financial Institutions (FIs) to provide working capital either individually, as a fund or collectively


Buyers to ensure a market for the products and ultimately revenue to sustain the programme


Value-chain such as, farmers, middlemen, processors


Shippers to facilitate transport of products to buyers and markets
IPED Details:

30-year old non-governmental foundation


Seeded by US$ 2.5 million grant from donor and government assistance


Foundation is now fully sustainable


Paid off initial investment in 2008


Disbursements totalling US$ 160 million in loans


Asset base of US$ 70 million
FAST Phases and Outcomes:

Initial matchmaking between MSMEs and financiers resulted in few successful matches (3 of 10), as most MSMEs were not credit ready.


FAST developed an MSME credit-readiness strategy which included a financial literacy toolbox. This resulted in 5 of 10 successful matches which, though improved, is still considered poor.


FAST then provided business advisors with tools to coach MSMEs on creating investment plans. This resulted in much better results of 8 of 10 successful matches.


The most recent phase involves the development of an online matchmaking platform that allows MSMEs to promote themselves to potential financiers, as well as investment guides and impact indicators on specific commodities for financiers to dispel the perception of greater risk in lending to the agriculture sector.
POPA Strategies:

Sign market agreements with farmers guaranteeing fixed prices and an assured market. These agreements do assist farmers in accessing financing however they are often not considered sufficient to meet the requirements for accessing a loan as set out by FIs.


Self-financing of a 30-acre Irish potato farm by the POPA to carry out some of their own production.


Create contract partnerships between POPA and farmers. POPA supplies the farmers with the input requirements such as, seeds, fertilizers, chemicals, and technical advice. The farmer contributes the land and labour and is obligated to sell POPA 100% of the production, which they have agreed to purchase in advancee. Once the crop is collected, POPA deducts the cost of the inputs supplied and the balance is paid to the farmer.


The Value of Credit-Readiness Assessments from Various Perspectives:


Helps entrepreneurs to understand what business is about and what is required to access financing


Helps mitigate risk


Assists loan officers in speaking with customers


Helps with understanding loan requirements and paperwork


Helps financial institutions meet regulatory demands
Summary of Recommendations from the FI-SME Working Groups:

Saint Lucia:–
Belle Vue Farmers’ Cooperative and the Credit Union to create a programme similar to current initiative with MASSY Stores

Jamaica:–
Development Bank of Jamaica to work with Joe Text Bakery to support cassava baked product programme


St. Elizabeth Cooperative Credit Union to support pilot project with two roots and tubers producers

Trinidad & Tobago:–
Establish the WCF at a national level and finance through import levies


Antigua and Barbuda:


Credit Union to analyze current practices in dealing with agri-MSMEs and alter accordingly


Pacific Region:


Pursue the FAST programme for MSMEs in their Region


Working Capital Fund:


Add further risk mitigation strategies to the model and pilot for one commodity in one country

Attendees of the Regional Agri-Value Chain Finance Forum in Kingston, Jamaica, September 2016. (Photo: APP)

Conclusion

This forum has been valuable in that it further sensitized participating financial institutions to the particular needs of agri-MSMEs and facilitated FI and SME engagement in a way that promoted open dialogue and generated valuable evidence-based solutions for the way forward. The forum also acted as a connector to link the Pacific Region to the Caribbean and to strengthen the intra-regional nature of the Intra-ACP APP. Both Regions share similar issues with respect to agri-MSME financing and through exposure to the Caribbean Forum, and particularly the work with FAST, the Pacific was able to explore and initiate direct collaboration with FAST on the matter of credit-readiness for MSMEs as an important aspect of commodity value chain financing.
Additionally, a working group to review the Working Capital Fund projects was nominated and includes representatives from the Credit Union movement, the Micro-Finance Alliance, the Caribbean Network of Rural Women Producers (CANROP), the Caribbean Farmers Network (CaFAN), the Caribbean Forum of Youths in Agriculture (CAFY) and IICA.
Overall, the forum moved FIs and MSMEs a few steps closer to building viable and practical relationships for enhancing access to financing for commodity value chains, that can benefit both the FIs and entrepreneurs, and the Region as a whole.

This series of project proceedings is produced under the Caribbean Action for the Agricultural Policy Programme (APP). The APP is funded under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) from the European Union and executed by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in collaboration with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the CARICOM Secretariat (CCS)/CARIFORUM.
This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union.

WP#20 Meetings of the Agri-Institutions Cluster (3)

 

The Agriculture Food and Nutrition Cluster (AFNC) originated in 2007, after a meeting between the Secretary General of CARICOM and Heads of CARICOM Institutions. The AFNC was formally convened in 2014, and expanded to include non-Regional institutions (such as IICA and FAO) and organised private sector entities (such as CABA, CAFAN). The ultimate purpose is to harmonize work programmes and engage in more collaboration. The implementation of the APP from 2013 provided the opportunity, commonality of purpose and platform to maintain a regular schedule of AFNC monthly meetings (both virtual and face-to-face) chaired by CARDI.