The investment guide draws attention to the ease of doing business in the Caribbean due to a common language, strong financial institutions, and an established credit information sharing across the region. Moreover, Caribbean governments are determined to increase agricultural production, weather conditions are good, and soil quality allows for the production of up to three crops per year. This demonstrates the favourable conditions for agricultural investment in the region.
Sweet potatoes are a good candidate for investment thanks to increasing global demand, good relationships with major export markets, and a strong tradition of growing the crop across Caribbean countries.
FAST President and CEO Noemí Perez said, "This guide provides practical information to financial services providers (FSPs) that wish to invest in the sweet potato sector in the Caribbean. FAST hopes that, with the right information, more and more FSPs can tailor their financial products and services to the growing demand in the agricultural sector."
Three different streams are explored in the investment guide: the macroeconomic profile of the Caribbean, the sweet potato value chain, and the creation of a favourable environment for investment.
Caribbean governments wish to diversify their economies away from traditional sectors such as tourism, rum, banana and sugar. Diversification into sweet potato will take advantage of the region's well-established agricultural production systems and robust trade relationships with global importers of sweet potatoes.
The sweet potato value chain is similar to those of other commodities, where producers respond to demand and go through various stages before exporting their product. The entire process usually takes five to six months. The guide identifies a specific type of sweet potato in which has a high demand among consumers and the added benefit of a shorter production cycle, which allows production of up to three crops annually.
Increased demand for sweet potatoes from the EU, UK, and US markets provides an excellent investment opportunity for the Caribbean farmers and small and medium-sized enterprises. To reap the benefits of the growing demand, farmers need to obtain financing to improve production capacity and acquire necessary inputs.
CTA Director Michael Hailu added, "Access to finance is one of the critical challenges that small-scale producers across the Caribbean and other regions where we work face in modernising their operations and reap greater benefit from farming. We hope the investment guide will help in attracting badly needed finances to the regions' promising sweet potato sector."
CTA/FAST Investment Guide for the Sweet Potato Sector in the CARIFORUM Region for Financial Institutions
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The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) is a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU). Its mission is to advance food security, resilience and inclusive economic growth in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific through innovations in sustainable agriculture. CTA operates under the framework of the Cotonou Agreement and is funded by the EU.
For more information on CTA, visit www.cta.int
The Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade (FAST) is an international non-profit organization. By partnering with FSPs and other stakeholders, FAST uses tools and services to facilitate access to finance for agriculture and forestry SMEs in emerging economies mainly in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. FAST's training, analytics, and matchmaking services provide impact investing solutions and capacity-building for their stakeholders.
For more information on FAST, visit www.fastinternational.org