How can we improve our caribbean agriculture sector? We need to access to new markets. We must be resilient. Improving the value chain is a necessity for building food security and profitable agribusiness. Do these statements seem reasonable? Or are they?

This year’s INVEST Caribbean event will focus on emerging trade and investment opportunities in ethnic and speciality niche market foods, biofuel, farmaceuticals and fisheries under the theme, “Resurgence & Resilience the Agribusiness Value Chain.”

But how exactly is this to be done?

Certainly diversifying our agri economy into various fields along the value chain is key. The more types of businesses their are the greater the need at the primary level improving opportunties for farmers while allowing a multitude of value added businesses. Healthy businesses equate to a healthy sector thusly a larger contribution from the overall agriculture industry to a nation’s GDP.

This is easier said than done.

Consider the following:

If you lived in Antigua and wanted to export a new wonder product called “BreadnutMed” How would you going about doing this?

You must first of all produce breadnut sustainably,  ensuring it meets the product input demand. This includes having a license for production of Breadnut on commerical scale. This commodity must be regulated and amount of production recorded by the sector authorities.

Apporiate paper work is needed by the relevant manufacturing authorities to transform breadnut into BreadnutMed and then even more to have it exported. Those creating and exporting the product must engage with so many actors along this value chain. A multitude of jobs and careers are clearly need to transform Breadnut into a consumer product.

All of this for an imaginery product. All of this takes place on the ground level.

These processes are arduous, confusing and limited starting from the ground up and throughout the value chain. The relevant structures and information flows are simply non exisitent. Rather it would be better to say that actors within the value chain are at different levels, with some parts working and others drastically failing.

How many of  stakeholders those who create policy, provide resources, generate plans. and the like. How many of those types of stakeholders actually function or interact on the ground level.

There is a massive disconnect between stakeholders within the agriculture sector meaning that dispite efforts to diversity and expand our value chains, building out the value chain will never occur.

Expanding our value chain can only come from the bottom up so that each challenge faced by a specific part of the value chain can be resolved. A truly efficient value chain can only be achieved if efforts to resolve issues at the bottom, where all commodities originate, is resovlved.

Easier said than done.

Solving this situation can never be an easy task. However via the Institute of Caribbean Studies, a platform is provided in which stakeholders, both high level and ground level alike can collaborate working together to systematically elimnate the problems facing our value chain activities. Thusly bringing us, as a region closer to a food sovereign status.

Written by Keron Bascombe of Tech4Agri