Growth In Food Export

For the period January to November 2009, there was an increase in food exports of 3.2 per cent, moving from US$107 million in 2008 to US$111 million in 2009. This was announced today (March 23), by Export Business Development and Information Services Officer at the Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA), Mr. Royce Britton, at a press briefing, held at the JEA’s Winchester Road office, in Kingston.

The briefing was held by the JEA to discuss the no-waiver policy of the Government and its impact on the agro processing industry. Mr. Britton pointed out that ackee exports increased by 53 per cent over the period, moving from US$8.3 million in 2008 to US$12.8 million in 2009. He also noted that Jamaica’s overall import from CARICOM fell from US$865 million in 2008 to US$678 million in 2009. “The reason for this was the reduction in the fuel import bill,” he added. He said that for the similar period, exports to CARICOM grew from US$61.1 million to US$62.8 million.

Meanwhile, Vice President of the JEA, Mr. Michael Ming, is urging the Government to review its no-waiver policy for the importation of raw material for the agro processing sector. Mr. Ming argued that the policy has resulted in a loss of markets, as exporters are not able to obtain waivers for the importation of raw materials, when local supplies are unavailable or are inadequate to meet production demands. “We are asking that a policy be implemented that whenever there is a shortage, a verified shortage of whatever the agricultural raw material, processors can have access to a permit,” he said.

“The Ministry of Agriculture has all the extension officers out there and they will be able to identify what is short, from what is not. But the time that it is taking now for them to do the verification, which is anywhere between one or two months, we lose a significant amount of sales because of that,” he said.

In his comments, President of the JEA, Mr. Vitus Evans, noted that the Ministry’s position is a commendable one, in terms of wanting people to buy local products. “What we are seeking is a policy position that identifies period of shortages that we can actually then put in place, mechanisms that will allow the processors to import during that period,” Mr. Evans said.

Since its establishment 40 years ago, the JEA has sought to keep its relevance by constantly changing, as it seeks to promote and support the growth and development of the export sector in Jamaica.