Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Dr. Norman Dunn (left) along with from left; Chief Executive Officer, Jamaica Business Development Corporation, Valerie Veira (2nd left); Chief Technical Director in the Ministry, Michelle Parkins (3rd left); and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dermon Spence (4th left), witness the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the MIIC and the International Labour Organization (ILO) for Formalizing Operators in the Jamaican Agricultural and Fisheries Sectors, by Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Audley Shaw (seated), at the Ministry’s New Kingston offices on Thursday, February 4, 2021. Director, ILO, Dennis Zulu, joined virtually.
Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Audley Shaw today (Thursday, February 4) signed an agreement with the International Labour Organization (ILO) to initiate a project to formalize 100 Jamaican farmers and fisherfolk. The virtual signing ceremony took place at the Ministry’s offices in Kingston between Minister Shaw and ILO Director, Dennis Zulu.
The 11-month project is expected to transition participants from the informal to the formal economy and will aim to move them along the MSME business development continuum from micro to small businesses and ultimately to medium-sized enterprises.
In signing the US$70,000 grant agreement, Minister Shaw pointed out that there are many challenges that hinder the growth of informal agricultural operations, including a lack of appropriate financing, limited technology use, inadequate use of innovation, insufficient market intelligence, business development and capacity constraints and difficulties navigating the business environment.
Pointing out that the project will help in addressing these issues, Minister Shaw said, “We want our farmers to understand that agriculture is a business and should be treated as such. They must appreciate that if they operate formally, then they will be able to enjoy substantially more fruits from their labour”.
Noting that the COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a severe blow to the Jamaican economy, Mr. Shaw asserted that the project was a timely intervention that would ensure that the nation’s post-COVID-19 recovery is strong.
In his address to the function, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Floyd Green expressed delight at the project adding that it was, “a timely initiative”. He highlighted the resilience of the sector, noting that, despite extreme weather conditions and the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic crop production increased by 9.8% during the 3rd Quarter of 2020.
According to Minister Green, “When our food heroes are well placed, then Jamaica is well placed”, and this project, he explained, will facilitate increased production, opportunities for exports and an increase in our GDP. “One hand washes the other and with this type of cooperation among our producers, our business operators and our government, Jamaica is on a path to building back stronger”, Minister Green said.
The Agricultural and Fisheries Formalization project is being implemented by the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), who will provide assistance with formal registration of businesses as well as capacity-building training to participants. Training exercise will address areas such as business development, product development and enterprise structuring for improvements in efficiency and effectiveness.
Coaching and hand-holding activities will guide operators in the fundamentals of formal registration of their businesses, opening a business bank account, financial record keeping, creating business linkages, identifying and accessing new markets and the rudiments of accessing financing, including grants among other subject areas.
Executive Director for the JBDC, Ms. Valerie Viera said that her team “is excited and ready to deliver” on the project. She added that the JBDC would seek to graft their efforts into a more sustainable programme in the future, to feature issues such as pension, health and investment in order to help persons to regard farming as a business.
Delivering his remarks, ILO Director, Dennis Zulu stated his organization’s commitment to cooperating with the Jamaican government and its stakeholders to achieve the objectives of the project. He said that the ILO financial technical assistance, “will strengthen the policies and income security, social protection and other incentives for formalization”.
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The Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce is described as Jamaica's "Business Ministry." It's mandate is to lead the development of policies that will create growth and jobs, while achieving social inclusion and consumer protection. The Ministry, working its stakeholders is primarily responsible for business policy development, monitoring and evaluation, while giving direction and oversight to a cluster of implementing departments and agencies.
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