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Jamaica Well Positioned to Capture Share of Ethnic Food Market



With the global ethnic food market expected to reach US$131.67 billion by 2030, Jamaica is well positioned to capture a share, thanks to the emergence of new trends at the HEART College of Hospitality Services (HCHS), at Runaway Bay in St. Ann.

This was noted by Managing Director of the HEART/NSTA Trust, Dr. Taneisha Ingleton, at the College’s Centre of Excellence Culinary Arts & Gastronomy Symposium and Open House, held on Wednesday, March 13.

To ensure that Jamaica is perfectly poised, Dr. Ingleton informed that the Trust has taken on the challenge of developing and implementing a Centre of Excellence in Culinary Arts and Gastronomy.

Its primary focus will be to develop, implement, and promulgate knowledge, best practices and skills in the art and science of preparing and serving food.

Referencing the 2023 report by Fortune Business Insights, Dr. Ingleton pointed out that persons, including future chefs, innovators and food enthusiasts, are being trained to tap into the market.

“We’re witnessing the birth of new trends at the HCHS. We’re witnessing new flavour profiles that will tantalise taste buds around the world and we are seeing incredible work happening in the research labs where local organic ingredients are being identified and celebrated,” she added.

The Managing Director further recognised the HCHS and the Cardiff Hotel and Spa, also at Runaway Bay, as two important pillars in Jamaica’s gastronomical and hotel experience.

“This college (HCHS) is the very best. I’ve done the analysis and I have not overanalysed. [It] is performing at the very highest level in the HEART/NSTA Trust [when we talk about] the quality of the training experience and the product that we continue to give to Jamaica,” she said.

“The team has been operating in purpose, and it is only when we operate in purpose that we get to a place like this and our fullest potential is activated,” Dr. Ingleton said.

As for the Cardiff Hotel and Spa, the Managing Director mentioned that its impact goes beyond just awards and certification.

“As a formidable diamond within HEART, the institution supplies over 1,000 graduates each year, with an impressive employment rate of 85 per cent in recent times,” she said.

Of importance, both the HCHS and the Cardiff Hotel have been placed ahead of many in the hospitality industry, having received the 2022 Green Global Gold Advanced Certification Award, given to hotels and resorts that demonstrate a commitment to sustainable practices and environmental responsibility.

This is in addition to receiving the Caribbean Sustainability Award for businesses in the Caribbean region that have made significant contributions to sustainable development in 2005.

“This is a testimony of [their] commitment to responsible tourism, so we are thinking big picture. We’ve moved beyond food and hotel experience to contributing to the global economy,” Dr. Ingleton pointed out.

As the Cardiff Hotel and Spa and the HCHS continue to represent true champions of sustainable tourism and excellence in hospitality, provide top-quality education, and contribute to Jamaica’s economic development in a changing culinary landscape, trainees were encouraged to draw on the inspiration of those who came before them.

“Let our dishes evoke memories, stir emotions, unite us and leave an indelible mark. Let Jamaican ingredients be our foundation. Let creativity be our brush [as we] paint the world with vibrant flavours of Jamaica, but most importantly, never forget the stories that these dishes tell and the cultural tapestry that comes with every bite,” Dr. Ingleton said.

By: SHERIKA HALL JIS, March 15, 2024

Photo JIS


Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) Opens Renovated Agro-Processing Incubator



The Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) has opened a renovated agro-processing incubator as it looks to boost production and export among micro and small agro-processors.

The project was funded by the European Union (EU), managed by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and implemented by the JBDC.

Speaking during Monday’s (November 13) grand opening at the JBDC’s Incubator Resource Centre in Kingston, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Senator the Hon. Aubyn Hill, said it is a significant milestone in Jamaica’s path towards entrepreneurial excellence.

“The initiative is a vital step in our journey at the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, aligning perfectly with our strategic goal to develop and strengthen industry value chains for export,” he said.

The Minister shared that micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) contribute significantly to Jamaica’s gross domestic product, approximately 44 per cent, noting that integrating them into a robust export value chain is crucial to boosting their growth potential and enhancing the country’s economic prosperity and global market presence.

JBDC Incubator and Resource Centre Manager for Technical Services, Colin Porter, detailed that six critical pieces of equipment were acquired for filling, packaging and production of a variety of products, including beverages, sauces, condiments, dry mixes, purées and pastries.

“We moved from approximately 600 sq. ft. to a total of 1,000 sq. ft. because we were constrained just by the physical limitations of the space itself. However, this expansion will now allow us to more efficiently allow our clients to carry out product development activities as well as production activities,” he said.

Mr. Porter shared that the incubator is staffed with an agro-industry process supervisor, food technologist, food development specialist and incubator assistant, who work with clients to transform their ideas or samples into world-class products.

He said the JBDC is working towards achieving Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000 for the incubator, “which will mean that we will be truly ready to export throughout the world””.

Meanwhile, Advisor to the CDB Vice-President of Operations, Dr. Darran Newman, pointed out that agriculture plays a critical role in the fabric of Caribbean societies.

“It serves, not only as a source of sustenance but also a cornerstone of our economy, providing income for millions. This agro-processing incubator is definitely a symbol of our commitment to nurturing and cultivating a culture of entrepreneurship and excellence within this agro-processing domain,” Dr. Newman said.

She further noted that through collaboration, mentorship and access to state-of-the-art facilities, Jamaica’s pool of agricultural entrepreneurs is poised to grow.

“This is a testament to our unwavering belief in the potential of agriculture to be a driving force for progress and prosperity,” Dr. Newman stated.

The JBDC is an agency of the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, mandated to provide business development services to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.


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91 Entrepreneurs From Jamaica Upskilled Under FAO Project



Photo: Dave Reid

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Representative for Jamaica, The Bahamas, and Belize, Dr Crispim Moreira (second left), makes a point during a conversation with (from left) International consultant with the FAO, Dr Inessa Salomao; Junior Achievement Jamaica’s Callia Smith-Harriott; and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining’s St. Sanya Morrison. The occasion was a validation seminar for the ‘Inclusive and Resilient Agri-Food Systems in Rural and Peri-Urban Territories of Kingston’ project on Friday (October 6) at the Altamont Court Hotel in Kingston.

A total of 91 small and micro entrepreneurs have been upskilled under the ‘Inclusive and Resilient Agri-Food Systems in Rural and Peri-Urban Territories of Kingston’ project, which was led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The project mainly assisted young female business owners to implement agri-food businesses with a sustainable, inclusive, and resilient approach to improving incomes and protecting livelihoods.

A validation seminar was held on Friday (October 6) at the Altamont Court Hotel in Kingston where the project was assessed.

The initiative, which started in 2021, covered 23 different locations in Kingston and St Andrew.

Sixty entrepreneurs were trained in business development in Kingston while 31 were trained in business development and agricultural best practices through two eco villages.

FAO representative for Jamaica, The Bahamas, and Belize, Dr Crispim Moreira, said the results of the collective efforts of the FAO and its project partners, Junior Achievement Jamaica and the Maia Foundation, are “impressive”.

“This project represents a significant milestone in our ongoing efforts to promote sustainable agriculture and food systems in Jamaica and is aligned with the Hand in Hand Initiative, a flagship programme of FAO,” Dr. Moreira said.

“These entrepreneurs are now leading the charge towards a more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient agri-food system that not only improves income but also safeguards livelihoods,” he added.

Dr. Moreira said one of the most significant outcomes of the project has been the strengthening of Government entities’ technical capacity to establish business incubators.

For her part, international consultant with the FAO, Dr Inessa Salomao, said with the project having started during the COVID-19 pandemic, its execution was “very challenging”.

“We had issues like increased poverty, and a lot of questions were evolving in the production sector. So when we started, we were challenged to make something different and new to benefit Jamaicans,” she said.

Five entrepreneurs benefited from some US$6,500 in seed funding to implement the business plans conceptualised during the project.

Commercial market linkages were also established with businesses in the Corporate Area and business registration was facilitated through partnerships.

Sixty-six Government of Jamaica personnel were trained to provide business incubator services; 20 persons from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining were trained to use and update a multidimensional geographic information data platform that visualises and overlays economic, statistical, and geospatial analyses to identify and validate business opportunities.

Project testimonials include that of Bull Bay Beekeeper and owner of G&G’s Vineyards, Alvia Green.

“I am different now because when I used to sell my honey, I would just put down the money. Now I am transformed. I have started to document sales. The best part of this experience was teaching us how to budget. I didn’t have any experience about balance sheets and assets,” the entrepreneur said.

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Agri-Linkages Exchange Portal Generates $325M In Earnings Between January and May



The Agri-Linkages Exchange (ALEX) portal has generated earnings of $325 million for farmers during the first five months of 2023.

Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, made the disclosure as he closed the 2023/24 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (June 20).

ALEX, which is a joint initiative of the Ministry, through the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), is the first online platform of its kind in the country.

It brings hoteliers into direct contact with the farmers and, in turn, reduces leakages and helps Jamaica retain more of the economic benefits of tourism.

Mr. Bartlett noted that this significant accomplishment showcases the platform’s effectiveness in connecting farmers with potential buyers and creating prosperous opportunities.

“Furthermore, in the preceding year of 2022, the ALEX portal facilitated the sale of agricultural produce valued at $330 million. This achievement not only highlights the platform’s success but also underscores the positive impact it has had on the livelihoods of 1,733 farmers and 671 registered buyers,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bartlett advised that the Agricultural Food Safety Manual has been developed and sensitisation sessions were conducted with more than 400 farmers.

He stated that through the Tourism Linkages Network, water shortages and drought periods were identified as barriers for community farmers supplying the tourism sector.

“To address this, we donated water tanks to farmers in St. Elizabeth, St. James, St. Ann, and Trelawny. In the first phase, 50 tanks were given to farmers in St. Elizabeth and 20 to farmers in St. James. In the second phase, 200 tanks were donated to farmers in St. Ann and Trelawny,” Mr. Bartlett told the House.

He added that the Ministry will “continue this initiative in 2023 to support small farmers, while spreading the tourism benefits to all”.

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Jamaica Now Has Export Market Access to More Countries for Various Agricultural Products



More local fruits and ground provisions will be able to reach international shores, as Jamaica now has export market access to several additional countries.

Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining, Hon. Floyd Green, said among these is Barbados for pineapples.

“We [also] now have market access to Cayman for frozen ackee, soursop, sweetsop, breadfruit, plantain, yam, sweet and Irish potato. We are now allowed to export all of those to the Cayman Islands,” he informed.

The Minister was speaking during the recent launch of the 2023 Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show at Hi-Pro Ace Supercentre in St. Catherine.

Mr. Green further advised that “we’ve been working with Trinidad [and Tobago where] we now have access for bananas, and we’ve been working with the United States of America (USA), and we now have access for June plum and soursop.”

Mr. Green commended the Plant Quarantine and Produce Inspection team for their role in achieving the feat.

Noting that these markets are of “high value”, he urged that producers must make use of the new opportunities.

“It means we have to ramp up our production. All of these markets can give us significant returns. What we have to be able to do is to fulfil that demand,” the Minister implored.

Mr. Green maintained that the nation “must be bullish about exports”, pointing out that “that is how we’re truly going to see wealth creation in agriculture; we are a small country, but we have immense reach.”

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Black Castor Oil – Liquid Gold Untapped In Jamaica



Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr. (right), is shown a bottle of black castor oil by Jovaughn Bailey of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, during the Jamaica Bauxite Institute’s (JBI) Castor Industry Forum, dubbed ‘Black Castor Oil – Liquid Gold Untapped’, at the Golf View Hotel in Mandeville, Manchester, on March 15.

Farmers and other stakeholders are being encouraged to collaborate to explore the full potential of the local castor bean.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport and Mining, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, who made the call, said there is an opportunity to tap into the high demand for Jamaican Black Castor Oil, noting that the global market for the product is valued at up to US$100 million.

“This is a truly Jamaican product that must carry brand Jamaica in every way; and I suggest that a committee be established, comprising the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI), Jamaica 4-H Clubs, the Scientific Research Council (SRC), the processors, farmers, JAMALCO, Jamaica Baptist Union (JBU), and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), under the chairmanship of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA),” Mr. Hutchinson said.

He was speaking at the JBI’s Castor Industry Forum, dubbed: ‘Black Castor Oil – Liquid Gold Untapped’, at the Golf View Hotel in Mandeville, Manchester, on March 15.

Mr. Hutchinson said, to realise the potential of the local castor bean, Jamaica needs to have a structured programme which ensures that processors have consistency of supply.

Currently, the product, which has gained popularity worldwide, is not a major farm crop in the island.

“This is too much of an important [product] for it to be faltering by the wayside. I feel strongly about it; so, let us, together, make it work,” Mr. Hutchinson said.

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., in his remarks, cited the need for training, organisation and planning to maximise opportunities in the industry.

“Across the world, you are looking at US$75 million to US$100 million [worth] of opportunity in this liquid gold; so, we have a massive global opportunity. There is more than enough reason to move to develop the local castor industry,” he said.

“Now, more than ever, when we push for ‘Grow Smart, Eat Smart’, we are saying to Jamaica, it is essential to understand the sector and to utilise every inch of land, refine the processing and utilise the research and development to maintain our standards,” the Minister added.

Mr. Charles urged farmers to ensure they understand and look closely at the science, the different types of seeds, and how they will fare in different parts of the island, before planting.

Currently, a study is being done on the Jamaica black castor bean at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona, under the leadership of Director of the Mona Institute of Applied Science, Dr. Howard Reid.

This is being undertaken through a grant facilitated by the JBU and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Upon conclusion, the findings will guide the process of securing the intellectual property rights of the Jamaica Black Castor Oil for the country.

For many years, several companies globally have been producing their own oil, but falsely labelling it ‘Jamaican’.

President of the Jamaica Castor Industry Association (JCIA), Courtney Haughton, said most of the products being marketed as Jamaican Black Castor Oil are fake.

“The only way we can claw back what is ours is if we secure our intellectual property rights. The process includes [the] research now underway at the Mona Institute of Applied Science,” he noted.

Other engagements include standardisation of the product with assistance from the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ), and producers’ compliance in meeting product standard acceptance in the global market.

Registration at the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) will be the next step, and initial dialogue has begun.

“Our next objective is to protect market integrity, because we will need strategic alliances with people who have the capacity to seek out those in violation of our rights and protect us through legal action,” Mr. Haughton said.

The association has also forged partnerships with the National Council on Technical Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET) and the JBU, to develop a curriculum for training and certification of industry participants.

Already, there is a Level One Module for planting, reaping and storage of castor beans, which has been ratified by the NCTVET Board.

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