VincyKlus holds its first annual general meeting
March 29, 2011
VincyKlus holds its first annual general meeting

The agro-processing industry and its contribution to the development of small island states, such as St. Vincent and the Grenadines, came into focus on Thursday, March 24, at the first annual general meeting of the newly-formed company, VincyKlus.{{more}}

The company comprises a number of small to medium-sized agro-processing businesses and membership includes farmers, input suppliers and technical and administrative support agencies.

Saboto Caesar, Minister of Tourism and Industry, delivering the feature address, said that regardless of its scale of operation, the agro-processing industry is significant to any agricultural-based economy, because it provides local farmers with a ready market.

“Long gone are the days when a farmer would grow his peppers, give some to his friends and then the rest give it to the market,” Caesar said.

Caesar explained that the agricultural sector, with the existence of agro-processors, means that farmers could benefit.

The idea of air-lifting locally manufactured agro-processed goods on the completion of the international airport was something to look forward to the Minister further explained.

“This is going to bring source markets closer to home,” he said.

Farmers would then need to produce more, in order to provide agro-processors with a constant supply of raw materials to supply the demand.

“It means that farmers are going to have to produce at economies of scale,” Caesar explained, adding if they did not increase their productivity, there would be problems in the agro-processing industry.

Caesar noted that farmers are going to have to increase their acreages and put emphasis on diversification.

Felix Lewis, Manager of the Center for Enterprise Development (CED), said that the time was now for the necessary groundwork to be laid, in order to take full advantage of the opportunities that the international airport would bring.

He told members of VincyKlus that they need to begin thinking about fostering linkages with similar organizations in neighbouring territories, because small island states were generally regarded as small producers, which presented a big challenge to their ability to compete.

“In order to take advantage of opportunities abroad, we may have to look beyond our shores to come up with the supply of raw materials,” Lewis contended.

He added that in this age, when regional and international markets were becoming more competitive, it is imperative for all industrial sectors to become more organized on national and regional levels to impact markets.

“Our ability to compete depends on the level of sector organization,” he said.