Enhancing innovative agri-value chain financing schemes in the Caribbean

Montreal, Canada. October 28th, 2016. Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade (FAST) successfully concluded its participation in the 2016 Caribbean Week of Agriculture in the Cayman Islands.

FAST has participated in the 14th edition of the Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA), in the Cayman Islands. The event, which took place between October 24 – 28, 2016, is one of the most important in the region. This year the title chosen was: "Investing in Food and Agriculture in the Caribbean", stressing the importance of investment in agriculture in the region.

FAST led a panel on October 25th at the CTA/CaFAN workshop, highlighting the need for building capacity in credit-readiness for agri-SMEs and financial institutions, adapting their services to the sector. Enterprises that can make gains in their credit-readiness will have a greater chance of being attractive to financial institutions, and of obtaining the finance necessary for the further development and growth of their operations. One of the biggest challenges discussed was the lack of credit-readiness and the need for financial literacy training for SMEs. The panellists were Neil Gomes (Anointed Farms), Bernard Ornilla (Alterfin), Carlos Natoreno (OikoCredit) and Aaron Moses (CCCU). The panel was facilitated by FAST's President and CEO, Noemi Perez.

On Wednesday, October 26th, Mrs Perez presented under the theme "Unlocking potential investment in agricultural SMEs through training, analytics and matchmaking". Mrs. Perez stressed how, through its new and innovative Online Financial Access Platform named AXiiS (Access and eXchange for impact investment and Sustainability), credit-ready SMEs will have the ability to connect with financial service providers and their financial products and services.

The presence of FAST at the Caribbean Week of Agriculture is part of a collaboration with its partners: IICA (Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture) through the Intra-ACP Policy Programme (APP), and CTA (Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation) to improve access to finance for agricultural SMEs in the Caribbean.

This initiative with CTA builds on the contributions of the APP actions in the Caribbean to enhance of financial service providers understanding of innovative agri-value chain financing schemes for SMEs. Mr Gomes is one of three agri-SMEs who qualified by FAST to participate as a part of this component. One project that FAST is currently leading under this collaboration is the development of an investment guide for sweet potatoes in the CARIFORUM region.

About FAST

FAST is an international non-profit, member-driven organization based in Montreal, Canada, which through its three main streams provides Training, Analytics and Matchmaking in order to close the access to finance gap for SMEs working in sustainable agriculture and forestry in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. For more information, please visit: www.fastinternational.org

About IICA

As the specialized agency of the Inter-American System for agriculture, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) supports the efforts of its member states to achieve agricultural development and rural well-being. Its mission is to encourage, promote and support member states in their efforts to achieve agricultural development and rural well-being through international technical cooperation. For more information, please visit: http://www.iica.int/en

AboutCTA

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 and nutritional security, increase prosperity and encourage sound natural resource management in ACP countries. It provides access to information and knowledge, facilitates policy dialogue and strengthens the capacity of agricultural and rural development institutions and communities. CTA operates under the framework of the Cotonou Agreement and is funded by the EU. For more information, please visit: http://www.cta.int/en/news/caribbean-week-of-agriculture-2016.html

About the APP

The APP, funded under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) of the European Union, seeks to enhance regional (Caribbean and Pacific) and interregional capabilities of the agricultural sectors in eradicating poverty. The specific objective is to increase the capability of Regional Agricultural Development Organizations of the Caribbean and Pacific regions to address the development needs of smallholder agriculture. IICA is the Executing Agency for the Caribbean Action, with Implementing Partners, the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the CARICOM Secretariat (CCS). For more information, please visit: http://www.intracp-app.org/en/

Promoting agritourism in Barbados

Like many Caribbean nations, Barbados faces two distinct crises. On the one hand, the island now imports almost 90% of the food consumed. On the other, levels of obesity and associated diseases have risen, largely because people are eating processed products and calorie-dense foods, most of which are imported. Agritourism, which links farmers and agribusinesses to the tourist market, could play a significant role in tackling both these problems and CTA is working closely with local partners to encourage the growth of the local food market.

Remarks by Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community

I am delighted to be in the Cayman Islands, to participate in this very special event, and to welcome you all, on behalf of the Caribbean Community to the Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA) 2016.

Dynamic value chains to drive agricultural development in the Caribbean

Boosting sustainable and profitable value chains offers the best prospects for driving a dynamic agriculture sector in the Caribbean. A series of workshops held in the run-up to the Caribbean Week of Agriculture 2016 heard that a range of initiatives is already producing encouraging results. Aimed at improving food security and increasing rural incomes, the strategy also seeks to reduce the Caribbean’s soaring food import bill, which is currently more than US$4 billion per year, and forecast to more than double by 2020.

Speech by Michael Hailu, Director of CTA

The theme of this year's CWA is investment in the food and agriculture sector, and this is a critical constraint for many Caribbean producers. Marketed and distributed properly, quality fresh and value-added agrifood products can be dynamic sources of jobs and income – if only the people behind these enterprises can access the finance and business development support they need to turn them into profitable ventures.

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