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.


Market Oriented Recovery of Exports (MORE)


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Funded by USAID, the primary goal of the MORE Project was to assist farmers overcome the damage caused by Hurricane Ivan and to improve their quality of life. Additionally, the intent was to raise the levels of productivity and profitability of the farming operations above the pre-Ivan levels.  More than simply giving the farmers seeds, plants and fertilizer was needed to accomplish this – farmers needed to improve productivity by growing crops differently.

MORE worked directly with 185 farm families to understand their losses and those factors that limited their ability to have viable and profitable farming operations. A survey instrument was developed to gather demographic, sociological and production information about the growers and their operations.

The agricultural consultants for MORE produced manuals for the four selected crops: Scotch Bonnet Peppers, sweet peppers, sweet potatoes and callaloo. Workshops were held and over 100 growers and other stakeholders attended. In addition to production information, presentations were made on the value chain.  There was particular emphasis on marketing which fostered the building of linkages among farmers, buyers, suppliers and other stakeholders, as well as government agencies.

The project collected soil and tissue samples from the participating farmers and taught them how to conduct testing so that they would be in a position to pull their own samples in the future.   For most farmers, this was the first time that they were individually engaged in analytical work on their farms.  Based on the analytical results, individual farmers received recommendations on fertilizers and soil amendments to apply to improve crop production.  Ways to improve pesticide safety and reduce environmental and human health hazards were discussed.   The project provided direct consultation with farmers in their fields to help them solve problems in both production and marketing.

MORE offered numerous learning opportunities for all parties involved. The farmers and other stakeholders were actively engaged in all processes of MORE. This included high levels of interaction in workshops, dialogue and discussion among the various stakeholder groups, and between the individual growers and consultants.  The project was a form of empowerment for many farmers.  Instead of doing things the way that they had always been done, farmers were encouraged to ask why they were doing what they were doing in growing and marketing their crops. They were encouraged to seek new solutions, new options and new methods which led to improved growing and marketing of their crops.

A key learning that arose out of the workshops was that farmers found the value chain approach beneficial: to have the demand side of the chain (produce buyers, processors, fresh vegetable exporters, hotels, and service industries) involved in the workshops.  Their presence gave the technical training additional relevance since farmers were able to see firsthand from buyers how improved practices could lead to higher sales and profits.


Diversify to Compete: Technology, Innovation and Collaboration in a Deep Rural Community

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Diversify to Compete was a European Union funded initiative, implemented by The Competitiveness Company, to improve the livelihoods of banana growing farmers, adversely affected by trade liberalization.  Interventions were aimed at moving farmers away from a subsistence agriculture model towards building agribusinesses, by diversifying of crops, creating market linkages, improving farm practices and providing technological assistance. D2C emphasized sustainability through training in best practices and fostering links between different actors in the food and agricultural industries.  371 acres were planted surpassing the target of 350 acres.  231 farmers participated, significantly surpassing the target of 80.   The Farmer Field School methodology was used for the capacity building of the farmers.  FFS was very successful and farmers are still meeting even though training and the project has ended. Farmers were also trained in best land husbandry practices and Integrated Pest management. The use of pheromone traps and the use of rotary tillers were introduced.   Market links were made as well as other marketing arrangements. Five greenhouses were erected and a greenhouse grower cluster formed.  At project end, participating farmers’ earnings had grown 8-fold.