El gobierno de Antigua y Barbuda urge a los agricultures a que aumenten la producción
Director of Agriculture Jedidiah Maxime has said that insufficient production capacity by agro producers and farmers continues to hamper Antigua & Barbuda's ability to export regionally. He said the ministry has been utilising the annual Agricultural and Food Festival in St Croix as a marketing and promotion tool for years.
However, Maxime explained that the country has not been able to boost trade with other Caribbean states in a significant way. "One of the reasons why we have not been able to target the regional market is because we have not really been able to process the necessary quantities for export such as a packing house facility to meet the export market," he surmised.
Pointing to the production levels of regional companies Matouks and Grace Foods that allow their prices to be less expensive, the agricultural director urged agro-processors to focus on developing their capacity. To complement this, he said, farmers should increase production allowing for a regular supply of products at reduced prices. "If we can give the agro-processors the raw material at a very competitive price and they can make the necessary investment to go to the next level, we will have cheaper products and they will be able to get a bigger share of the local market and also be able to make some inroads into the regional market," he said.
With Antigua & Barbuda importing in the region of $16 million pounds of chicken annually, Maxime said there are many opportunities that farmers and agro-processors can take advantage of. "The business opportunity exists. People just need to seize them. It would require farmers coming together more to meet the demands," the agriculture director explained. Ministry of Agriculture figures indicate that Caricom's food import bill has doubled within the last three years to around US $4 billion.