WIN FA launches Value Chain Cluster programme
August 31, 2010
WIN FA launches Value Chain Cluster programme

Farmers and agro-processors in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are among those expected to benefit from a project being implemented by the Windward Islands Farmers Association (WINFA).{{more}}

The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Agri-Business Value Chain Cluster has been designed to bring technical support and ongoing mutual benefit to businesses and organizations involved in agri-business.

The project, which was conceptualized by the Centre for Enterprise Development (CED), is the continuation of an earlier process which was started by the CED, during which 19 businesses and organizations involved in agri-business formed a committee. The CED is now looking to form that loose grouping into a fully functioning cluster.

Steve Maximay, a consultant with the project and a WINFA director explained that in a cluster, individuals and organizations with a common purpose get together for mutual benefit.

WINFA, which has its headquarters in St. Vincent, won the tender for the contract to take the cluster from a concept to a functioning, institutionalized organization.

In a recent interview with SEARCHLIGHT, Maximay and Afzal Khan, another consultant on the project, explained that during the four-month lifespan of the project, the legal framework of the cluster will be established; a mechanism for the cluster to sustain itself will be decided on; and members of the cluster will be provided with free diagnostics and technical and operational support for their businesses and organizations. The team will also explore local, regional and international market opportunities for all members of the cluster.

Maximay explained that despite the mutual benefits to be obtained from being a member of the cluster, businesses and organizations are still free to conduct business outside of the cluster arrangement. It is however hoped that benefits, such as centralized procurement of inputs and supplies,will accrue to cluster members.

The project, which will come to an end on December 3, 2010, is funded by the European Union and has a ceiling of EC$600,000, which can only be used to source consultants for the cluster members. Under this project, infrastructure and the equipment cannot be purchased.

Maximay said that when the project ends in December, the objective is not only to have in place a legal framework for the cluster, but for a business plan to be in place to ensure the sustainability of the body.

“We hope to expand it and make if fully national in scope,” Maximay said.

Organizations such as the Standards Bureau, the Consumers Association and the National Commercial Bank are already part of the cluster, and also stand to benefit from the technical assistance being provided under the project.

The project implemetation team is lead by Rufina Paul, who is a member of WINFA’s Board of Directors as well as being an expert in Rural Development. Maximay, who is also a WINFA Director, will provide Technical and Operational support to agro-processors and producers in the value chain. Khan’s role on the team is to assist cluster members with Financial and Organizational Change Management; Eustace Vitalis is the Marketing Consultant. Kozel Fraser, Economist with WINFA is also one of the consultants on the Project.

Businesses involved in agriculture, agro-processing, or the provision of inputs or services to farmers or agro-processors are all eligible to be part of the value chain cluster. Interested individuals and organizations are invited to contact the project team which is based at WINFA’s office at Paul’s Avenue in Kingstown.