- The USA holds a 70% market share in the supply of sweet potatoes. Opportunities exist for suppliers from developing countries with differentiated or competitive products (CBI, 2016).
- European demand for American sweet potatoes is growing rapidly as imports doubled between 2009 and 2014.
- The Caribbean has the opportunity to establish a niche market in Europe.
- Organic sweet potatoes are sold for more than double the price and might be considered an option for the future.
- As the European sweet potato market grows, CARIFORUM countries also have the opportunity to expand their existing market share in this region.
When exporting fresh produce from tropical countries to temperate countries, there is a window of opportunity that favours the Caribbean region when the market price is high. This window has to be carefully researched and exploited by CARIFORUM countries in terms of production planning to meet this potential.
Organic sweet potatoes are sold for more than double the price. The region does not plan to cultivate organic sweet potatoes at present, but it remains an option for the future.
The existing financial landscape shows that, in general, the business risks in the sweet potato sector are a major inhibitor to investment.
Financial institutions focus on inherent integrated business risks which inhibit successful production and trade. These risks in the agricultural sector may be categorised according to the business system, i.e. corporate governance, investment finance, marketing, operations (technical and support) and people development.
In Jamaica and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, where the technical production aspects have been carefully addressed, as the industry expands, more attention needs to be paid to the management of value chains, corporate governance, finance, marketing, and people development.
Sweet potato: a climate stress resilient crop
Sweet potatoes are a drought tolerant crop and, as such, are themselves used in strategies to mitigate climate stress. Most of the other climate-associated risks with sweet potatoes are mitigated through the use of proper agronomic practices for this crop. Being a three-month crop, it is relatively easy to mitigate the risks of 'climate stress' to sweet potatoes through good agronomic practices.
Favourable existing financial ecosystem
Both Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago actually rank higher than the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) High-Income average and the Latin American average.
The Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, also have stronger legal rights when accessing credit than the OECD High-Income average and the Latin American average.
Lastly, on the index indicating how much credit information is shared and how widely, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica outrank the OECD High-Income average and the Latin American average, and Trinidad and Tobago is competitive. This information should be promising to any investor seeking business opportunities in the Caribbean region.
Sweet potato trading cycle in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Cash flow projection (US$)
|Opening Bank/Cash Balance||$0||$0||$0||$0||$0|
|Advance from FI||594,074||$0||877,037||3,382,526||$0|
|Payment from buyer||$0||$0||$0||$0||5,656,000|
|Total cash in-flow||594,074||$0||877,037||3,382,526||5,656,000|
|Farm to packhouse||$0||$0||59,259||$0||$0|
|Packhouse to wharf||$0||$0||$0||197,531||$0|
|Repayment of advance to FI||$0||$0||$0||$0||4,853,637|
|Total cash out-flow||594,074||$0||877,037||3,382,526||4,853,637|
|Net cash flow||$0||$0||$0||$0||802,363|
|Cumulative cash flow||$0||$0||$0||$0||802,363|