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World Free Zones Organization (World FZO) Annual Conference and Exhibition 2022



Jamaica will host the World Free Zones Organization (World FZO) Annual Conference and Exhibition 2022 (AICE 2022) at the Montego
Bay Conference Centre from June 13 – 17. AICE 2022 is being held under the theme “Your Partner for Resilience, Prosperity and Sustainability.”
More than 1,000 delegates from many of the 140 World FZO member countries are expected to be present for the 8 th staging of the annual event, which the Jamaica Special Economic Zones Authority (JSEZA) successfully bid to host.

The Ministerial Committee comprises Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; the Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism and the Hon. Olivia Grange, Minister of Sports, Youth and Culture.
JSEZA is an agency of the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce.

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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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Invest Jamaica 2022 Delivers Best In Class Showing And Good Initial Results



The Invest Jamaica 2022 Business Conference, under the theme “Jamaica: The Nearshore Delivery Hub of the Caribbean”, held November 29 – 30 at the Montego Bay Conference Centre, has been commended as a success by participants, following two days of intense engagement among local and international private sector participants and government officials.

The event hosted 350 physical attendees with approved registrants from 51 countries, more than 250 scheduled business-to-business (B2B) meetings, seven insightful panel discussions and 11,114 viewers via live stream (YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook). Staged in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) through the Global Digital Services Sector (GDSS) Project, the Conference was led by the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce and the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO).

Senator the Honourable Aubyn Hill, Minister of Industry Investment and Commerce, stated, “Invest Jamaica 2022 provided a great nexus for engagement on local and foreign direct investment interest for Jamaica, while showcasing very well why Jamaica is a premier investment destination and an ideal place to do business. “

Invest Jamaica 2022 has as its objective, to generate investment interest in priority sectors which will be vigorously pursued to be realised as investment projects in the years to come. The conference was the meeting point for senior executives and government officials from across the globe. Panel discussions unearthed strategic focus and disruptive solutions for the six main featured sectors of investment opportunities: Logistics, Special Economic Zones, Global Digital Services, Agribusiness, Manufacturing, and Tourism. The conference also gave special space to showcase the gains of Jamaica’s financial ecosystem.

A unique feature of Invest Jamaica 2022 was the Pitch Platform, sponsored by the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA). The Pitch Platform featured presentations/pitches on nine (9) packaged investment projects spanning Special Economic Zones, Agribusiness, Manufacturing, Solid Waste to Energy and as well as a creative component featuring two Jamaican short films, Ego Sum and Sink or Swim. The shorts received rave reviews by the outstanding conference host, Dr Terri-Karelle Reid and the attendees.

Invest Jamaica was also supported by sponsors Jamaica Special Economic Zones Authority (JSEZA), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and NCB Capital Markets.

Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) is an Agency of the Ministry of Industry, Investment, and Commerce, whose mission is to drive economic development through growth in investment and export.

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Businessuite News24

EXIM Bank Earmarks JA$100 Million to Assist SMEs Expansion Online



Managing Director, National Export-Import Bank of Jamaica (EXIM Bank), Lisa Bell (left), and Chief Executive Officer, Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA), Kamesha Blake, display a folder with the partnership agreement signed by both organisations for the ‘EXIM Ecommerce Funder’, to assist small and medium-sized enterprises, on Friday (September 16), at the Bank’s headquarters in St. Andrew. Observing is Business Development Consultant, EXIM Bank, Winston Lawson.


The National Export-Import Bank of Jamaica (EXIM Bank) has earmarked $100 million for an e-commerce fund to assist small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in expanding their businesses online.

Through a partnership with the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA), the ‘EXIM Ecommerce Funder’ will finance up to 80 per cent of the associated costs of critical inputs for SMEs which are in the process of or are interested in trading through an e-commerce platform.

The facility offers up to $5 million per entity, at a rate of five per cent per annum. It is a medium-term, non-revolving, secured loan, with up to three months moratorium on the principal repayments, where required.

During the launch on Friday (September 16), at the EXIM Bank’s headquarters on Hope Road, St. Andrew, Business Development Consultant, Winston Lawson, said while there are “vast and potentially impactful advantages” of operating a business in the virtual space, the inputs that drive sales may require funding.

These inputs, he noted, include: the relevant equipment and systems; registration of a domain; server setup; hosting services; development of a website and security features; high quality product shots and videos for website catalogue; establishment of payment gateways; search engine optimisation and online marketing, and copywriting and inventory management.

Mr. Lawson said it is hoped that the new facility will increase export sales and upgrade the SMEs’ e-commerce platforms to reach global markets.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Sancia Bennett Templer, for her part, endorsed the initiative, stating that “we fully support funding for e-commerce.”

“It is clearly part of the broad ecosystem that the Prime Minister [the Most Hon. Andrew Holness] speaks about in terms of making Jamaica a digital economy,” she said.

Mrs. Bennett Templer noted that the Ministry continues to work on various programmes geared towards MSMEs and technology, in addition to the efforts of the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) to support the digitisation of the country’s small business sector.

Managing Director, EXIM Bank, Lisa Bell, who also welcomed the “glorious partnership”, said the institution’s intention is to offer support to SMEs in the post-COVID-19 pandemic era, where consumer patterns have changed globally.

In her remarks, Chief Executive Officer, JMEA, Kamesha Blake, congratulated the EXIM Bank for providing alternative financial solutions and niche products to drive business expansion and economic growth in Jamaica.

Financing under the ‘EXIM Ecommerce Funder’ are accessible directly from the EXIM Bank, and the customary standings for business lending will be upheld.

For more information, persons can contact the bank through their website:

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Businessuite News24

Government Of Jamaica Invests $200 Million in Irish Potato and Onion Production Project



Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr. (second right), displays potatoes from this year’s crop as he listens to a point being made by Coordinator of the National Irish Potato and Onion Programme, Locksley Waites (left). Occasion was the launch of the 2022 National Irish Potato and Onion Programme in Guy’s Hill, St. Catherine, on August 31. Also pictured are (from left) Member of Parliament, St. Mary Western, Robert Montague; Member of Parliament for St. Catherine North East, Kerensia Morrison; and Acting Chief Executive Officer, Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Winston Simpson.


The Government is investing $200 million in the national Irish potato and onion programme, to increase the hectares under production and to improve yields of these crops.

The sum of $150 million has been allocated for the Irish potato programme, while $50 million will be invested in onion production.

Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., said for the upcoming planting season, the intention is to target expansion of the programme in the traditional growing areas of Clarendon, St. Catherine, St. Elizabeth, Trelawny and St. Thomas.

“Our goal is to see if we can get 50 per cent more production in onion. We doubled our target last year and we want to get 50 per cent more this year, and for potato we are on our way to exceeding the 70 per cent that we achieved last year,” he noted.

The Minister was addressing farmers and other stakeholders at the launch of the 2022 National Irish Potato and Onion Programme in Guy’s Hill, St. Catherine, on August 31.

Seeds will be made available to the farmers by mid-October for the planting season.

“We are targeting 1,500 acres of land which is going to be a 20 per cent increase over the last year’s planting season,” Minister Charles Jr. informed.

He urged farmers to contact the RADA offices to have their first acre of land prepared free of cost under the ‘Grow Smart, Eat Smart’ production programme.

Additionally, in keeping with the promised support to assist new farmers with land preparation through a special incentive programme valued at $63 million, the first tranche of $20 million has been issued by the Ministry to RADA. Other support provided includes backhoes and fertiliser, among other things.

Coordinator of the National Irish Potato and Onion Programme, Locksley Waites, said the target for this year is a minimum of 24,000 tonnes.

“We will have to put more land into production. We are vigorously trying to find new acreage in the Guy’s Hill, Mavis Bank, Darliston, and Manchester belts,” he told JIS News.

The national Irish potato and onion programme has created approximately 40,000 employment opportunities within the sector.

The Irish potato programme, which commenced in 2008, is aimed at satisfying 100 per cent of the estimated demand of 17,000 tonnes annually.

For the 2021 to 2022 period, 70 per cent of national demand was achieved, eliminating the need for importation of the food staple since November 2021.

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Invest Jamaica

Inside Barita’s Proprietary Investment Strategy



Mark Myers Chairman Barita Investments Limited (“Barita” or “the Group”) provide investors with an insight into their very successful investment strategy, as outlined in their recently released unaudited financial statements for the nine months of the financial year 2022.

Investment Strategy
Barita’s proprietary investment strategy has been characterized during the post-acquisition period by a focus on the pursuit of differential value through complementing our traditional business lines and exposures with a funding base containing lower than typical leverage and by making strategic allocations to alternative investments.

Low Leverage:
Between March 2019 and September 2021, Barita raised $34.5 billion in permanent equity capital between two (2) Rights Issues ($9.2 billion), two (2) Additional Public Offers (“APOs”) ($24.3 billion) and a Non-Redeemable Non-Cumulative Preference Shares ($1 billion). Our leverage of less than half the industry average and capital to risk weighted assets ratio of more than 4 times minimum regulatory requirments has served as a significant defensive feature in the face of several periods of market stress which have characterised the post-pandemic period. This has also positioned Barita well to take advantage of price dislocations which have also been a recurrent feature of the post pandemic period.

Allocations to Alternative Investments:
The period that has followed the economic and financial market downturn brought on by the 2008/2009 financial crisis has been characterized by a largely uninterrupted cycle of rising prices in most traditional risk assets driven substantially by the effects of unprecedented global monetary policy.

This situation has informed the pursuit of an investment strategy which attempts to complement the typical higher beta exposures provided by traditional assets with an allocation to specific segments of the alternative investment universe. We have defined the focus areas of our alternative investment strategy as spanning real estate, private credit, private equity and infrastructure.

Over the last 18 months, we have taken several foundational steps towards establishing a suite of portfolios/vehicles via which both Barita and the investing public can gain varying forms of exposure to the targeted asset classes in an efficient manner. This has involved the sourcing, evaluation, and selection of seed portfolio assets as well as the structuring of investment vehicles and the attendant seed funding thereto. The most advanced strategies across the four lanes in order of capital deployed are real estate, private credit and private equity with our infrastructure-based strategy expected to make more progress in FY2023.

Real Estate Strategy
During 03 FY 2022 we achieved a material milestone in relation to our real estate focused strategy as we offered access to the portfolio of prime real estate that we have been accumulating via the managed special purpose vehicle, MJR Real Estate Holdings Limited (“MJR”), to our clients via the Barita Real Estate Portfolio Unit Trust Fund.

MJR presently has over 1,900 acres of real estate in its pipeline for development. The entity’s strategy targets the acquisition of undervalued real property with clear opportunities for material value-add through infrastructure development, repurposing and/or construction, and the stimulation of foreign direct investments into Jamaica and the region.

The real estate in MJR’s portfolio has a range of applications to include residential, commercial, light industrial and hotel/residential projects. MJR is presently in the acquisition phase of its life cycle following which the company will be moving into the development phase starting in FY 2023. The development phase will involve Barita as investment manager engaging technical and financial partners to develop its properties.

An example of Barita’s approach through MJR is the intended development of the 250+ acre property, Reggae Beach. Located in Prospect St. Mary, Reggae Beach is intended to be transformed into a multifaceted development with high end resort, luxury villa and hospitality applications to the seaside twinned with residential and commercial services to include a town centre. It is intended for the development of this property to add further vitality to the community through the significant investment it will attract from the hospitality sector coupled with the attendant commercial and residential needs the hospitality services will necessitate. The development of the property is anticipated to transform the community’s environs and create and sustain thousands of jobs in various sectors for ordinary Jamaicans which holds true to our ethos as a Company.

There are several tailwinds to the planned development in our view, to include the continued return of international travel, the expansion of flights to the Ian Fleming International Airport, which is in close proximity to the property, and the dynamism of the topography of the land which augurs well for a landmark development.

Private Credit & Private Equity Strategies

Year-to-date in FY 2022 Barita has originated/sourced and deployed approximately $5 billion into private credit investments which have provided the company with equity type returns and have served as a source of resilience in our overall credit portfolio in the face of rising interest rates. Barita has identified several avenues through which the value embedded in these exposures can be realized and, in a similar way to our real estate strategy, we intend to make some elements of these strategies available to the investing public over time.

As we outlined in our FY 2021 annual report, we see our mandate as being an effective conduit through which investment opportunities are efficiently sourced and structured to serve as a key enabler to economic development even as we build capacity to satisfy the investment objectives of our customers. This mandate has informed the company’s decision to construct a funding profile which is overweight in equity capital relative to the typical broker-dealer operating in Jamaica. Higher capital ratios complemented by lower leverage afford Barita greater capability to execute on its investment strategy including the prudent management of idiosyncratic risks related to alternative investments.

See also

Barita Looking To A Future Built On A New Digital Platform As It Seeks To Be Resolute In Making Barita More Accessible, Convenient And Customer Focused.

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