THE Ministry of Commerce, Business Development, Investment and Consumer Affairs recently held an Agriculture Value Chain Symposium in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture.
The symposium was hosted by the Trade Export Promotions Agency TEPA, under the theme “Developing a shared vision towards increasing agricultural exports.”
Minister for Commerce, Business Development, Investment and Consumer Affairs, Emma Hippolyte said the agricultural sector has been identified as a priority sector for export development in Saint Lucia.
“As we stand ready to embrace and support any sound initiative aimed at increasing Saint Lucia’s exports whether in manufactured goods, services or agricultural products, we are in the business of promoting private-sector-led growth in which exports to regional and international markets must be a critical driver of our growth process,” she said.
The Commerce Minister added that despite diminishing fortunes in the industry over the past two decades, agriculture continues to be a vital part of Saint Lucia’s economy.
“Among the earth shaking changes is the advent of the irreversible wave of globalization which is driven by rapid advances in information and communication technology. These unprecedented developments have dramatically reshaped the configuration of business organizations in terms of the structure and design of production.”
She said changes in the international environment have reshaped the configuration of the business sector.
SLASPA, farmer co-operatives, merchandisers and other key entities along the agriculture value chain, were present to discuss creative approaches to solving critical issues affecting the industry.
The symposium focused on setting priorities for the export of commodities and establishing a multi stakeholder (private/public sector) team to chart the way forward for the export of strategic crops.
Meanwhile, the Ministry is also continuing a drive to encourage St Lucians to buy local products, goods and services.
In order to encourage the public to adopt a “Buy Saint Lucian” position, the Ministry is asking Permanent Secretaries to provide quarterly reports indicating the total amount spent on the procurement of domestic goods and services by their Ministries.
The Ministry of Commerce said many Saint Lucian products are equal or comparable in quality to imports. The Ministry therefore recognizes the need to create a platform for all government procurement personnel and Saint Lucian manufacturers and service providers to present to government buyers, the goods and services that are produced in Saint Lucia.
The Ministry will also provide an opportunity for Saint Lucian manufacturers and service providers to obtain feedback on their products.
The Ministry said it hoped to foster an environment for Saint Lucian manufacturers and government procurement personnel to network and pursue strategic business opportunities.