Assistant Manager, Business Advisory Services at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), Keera Walters.
The Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) says there are many benefits that operators within the agricultural sector can access by formalising their operations.
Speaking with the JIS News, Assistant Manager, Business Advisory Services at the JBDC, Keera Walters, argues that formalisation is the key to farmers and fisherfolk achieving economic growth.
“Formalisation enables you to be recognised as a legitimate entity, people will recognise you and want to do business with you and trust you more if you are registered. Some businesses, such as supermarkets, require that they work only with registered business persons,” she explains.
Ms. Walters tells JIS News that the agricultural sector forms an important part of the Jamaican economy, accounting for 7.3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018.
“This sector is characterised by a prevalence of farmers operating informally despite their significance to rural development and the general economy. It is estimated that approximately 43 per cent of the Jamaican economy operates informally, which is even a stauncher reality where workers in the agricultural sector are concerned,” she explains.
The JBDC is leading the implementation of the Formalising Operators in the Jamaican Agricultural and Fisheries Sector project, which aims to engage 100 farmers and fisherfolk from across the island to formalise their operations by training them in enterprise formalisation and capacity development.
According to Ms. Walters, the JBDC is proud to be leading the execution of the project, because it recognises the opportunities that can be accessed with more persons within the agricultural sector becoming formalised.
“I would encourage all the players in the agricultural and fisheries industry to apply to the programme, because the JBDC has a comprehensive system of supporting businesses at whatever stage that they are at. Agricultural raw material is the primary input for so many other sectors. There are a lot of opportunities for you that could really catapult you from where you are now to a whole other dimension and we have found that a lot of times, it is just the awareness and the exposure to what is possible that causes that mindset to shift,” she adds.
Ms. Walters says that formalising operations will enable more operators within the sector to contribute to nation-building efforts.
In an interview with JIS News, Chief Growth Officer & CEO of Zingery International, Ethnie Miller Simpson, also shares similar views on how formalisation can benefit operators within the agricultural sector.
“Historically in Jamaica, you find that a lot of farmers do not view agriculture as a career or business, so they don’t necessarily think that formalisation is important. Registration with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) as a farmer is an important step, because there are certain types of assistance that you can get from RADA through the Government that you would not have been able to access if you aren’t a registered operator,” she explains.
According to Ms. Walters, the formalisation of operations by farmers and fisherfolk will also enable more persons to become “bankable”.
“They also have more opportunities to access finance and funding from an investor financial institution. To forge partnerships, the stakeholders want to know that you are taking yourself seriously,” she says.
Mrs. Miller Simpson also agrees with Ms. Walters regarding the opportunities that can be unlocked financially, if farmers formalise their operations.
“Formalisation gives you access to assistance from any of the lending agencies and commercial banks, and that kind of help really flows easier for a farmer who is formally registered, rather than someone who is not,” she says.
Participants in the Formalising Operators in the Jamaican Agricultural and Fisheries Sector project will benefit from training in topics such as business registration with the relevant State authorities, access to public procurement opportunities, affordable financing, preparing the enterprise to engage with players in the formal economy and structuring the operations for efficiency and effectiveness.
Interested persons can access application forms at all 14 RADA offices, National Fisheries Authority, the JBDC’s offices and Small Business Development Centres in Kingston, Manchester, St. Ann, St. James and Westmoreland.
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