Food Coalition

Promoting competitive and resilient value chains in the Caribbean

The Caribbean region was built on the wealth of the agricultural sector. The traditional industries of the past – sugar cane, bananas, cocoa, and rice – not only represented strong export products, but strong examples of well-coordinated, well-financed and efficient value chains. The export of these commodities from the region were based on highly profitable business models, strong trans-Atlantic trade relationships, efficient flow of products from farm to consumer, robust policy support, and a regional R&D effort to drive essential productivity improvements at the farm level.

Global economic and climatic conditions have fundamentally changed, but the Caribbean business model for agriculture has not. The past model for competitive agricultural sectors has become redundant and governments are struggling to find a viable replacement. Alongside of this, tourism and service sectors have taken off lifting great proportions of the population out of poverty, but have also driven up labour costs, creating competitiveness constraints and decreasing the interest in agriculture. The COVID-19 Pandemic will exacerbate this situation.

Unfulfilled market opportunities exist in local, regional and export markets, but the region is struggling to identify the products and value chains of the future. The lack of quality data in the region has meant there has been no broad based, and evidence driven real time assessments of what products have the potential to sustain and grow viable agricultural businesses, generate good revenues for farmers, develop the agro-processing base, replace price competitive imports and capitalize on niche-export market opportunities. There are good opportunities, but the markets have not been sufficiently quantified, nor sufficient attention paid to the inherent market failures common in many of the traditional industries in decline and fledgling nascent industries.

A considerable number of chains are incurring the spread of pest and diseases because of the failure of clean seed programmes, many have yet to adopt basic technologies to drive productivity gains, others with a strong supply base fail to develop cost effective models for processing. Very few are ready to adapt to the major challenges posed by major threads like climate change and COVID-19.

Without solid understanding and dissemination of profitable business models based on concrete market opportunities the sector is a car without an engine - not moving anywhere. In sum, the region lacks good examples of innovative and feasible programming to develop the sector. In the context of climate change, COVID-19 and other type of disasters, a new approach that seeks to use the potential of digital technologies and digitization can help us improve performance across the whole value chain and bring us a long way towards zero hunger and malnutrition, more inclusive and prosperous rural societies and more resilient food systems,

Priority Areas of work: Food Systems Transformation
SDG: 1. No Poverty, 2. Zero Hunger, 5. Gender Equality, 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth, 10. Reduced Inequality, 17. Partnerships to achieve the Goal
Level: Regional
Region: Latin America and the Caribbean
Budget: USD 30 million

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