TCC implemented a cluster project in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, funded by the Centre for Enterprise Development and the European Union. The work involved the development of a cluster and networks in the Agro-Processing Sector. The Agro-processing Industry in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) can be regarded as being in its nascent stage, even though there are firms that had been in the business of agro-processing and exporting for many years. In the last 12 years, several other firms had entered the marketplace that had begun to build both domestic and export markets based on the quality of their product, the strength of their brand (domestically) and the support given by local, regional and multi-lateral sources to enhance their export capabilities. The cluster project mobilised the actors in the agro-processing enterprise and in the export value chain. These included organizations and firms that had long been involved in exports (the St. Vincent Banana Growers Association, the National Farmers Union/Windward Islands Farmers Association [WINFA], the Arrowroot Industry Association and National Properties), as well as those supporting exports (the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Commerce, the Agricultural Diversification Programme and the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Development Bank, among others). Besides the firms directly exporting the goods themselves, input suppliers, including farmers, technical support providers (e.g. the Taiwanese Mission in SVG) and local buyers of agricultural output (restaurants, other members of the hospitality sector) were also engaged. Working Groups were established, one of which articulated the cluster’s vision as being: “To deliver a quality product/service that is competitively priced and packaged for the international market to an informed and discriminating market in an efficient manner”.
In order to achieve the vision of the cluster, the Working Groups’ Chairs and their group members, under the guidance of TCC’s Technical Advisors developed a programme that addressed some of the key issues that had been creating constraints for the growth of the agri-business sector and which, resolved in the short term, brought benefits to the participants in the cluster. The key constraints addressed were: removal of VAT from the Agro-processing Sector; procurement; packaging; labelling; standards; collective marketing and improved access to financing. The cluster developed a Results Matrix to track outcomes. There was significant commitment of private sector players to collaborate and share information. There was an increasing awareness of the benefits that accrue to everyone from participation and collaboration.