JAMPRO calls for economic diversification post-COVID-19
Great potential for agribusiness
The Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) has said that post-COVID-19, the country will have to renew its focus on building the economy through multiple sectors if we are to take advantage of budding investment opportunities.
Speaking via a Facebook live stream last Thursday, the agency’s president Diane Edwards said that there are several industries that will emerge from the pandemic with more resilience, which will provide huge economic benefits for the economy.
She noted these will include manufacturing, e-commerce, global services sector, health care and biotechnology, logistic services, renewable energy and agriculture — each having the potential to come out stronger as their prospects for investment opportunities will be ripe post-COVID-19.
She underscored the need for economic diversification in the post-recovery period, reasoning that gone are the days when we focused on one industry to carry the burden of economic development.
“As Jamaica’s economic development agency, our focus has to change; we have to support those industries outlined — which will underpin the diversification of our economy. I think a lot of people are talking at home now about the need to not put all our eggs into the tourism basket but to ensure that we have vibrant agriculture, digital economy, manufacturing, and logistics. These are the sectors that we are going to be focused on, going forward,” she said.
Edwards reminded that the country before the outbreak of the deadly virus was one with a promising future and one that was on a positive growth trajectory.
In stressing the need for this to be restored, she said we have to begin to take full advantage of the tools and skills as well as embrace and explore new technologies that will lead us to development.
We think the economy was poised before COVID-19 and we want to recover and rebuild that momentum. We have to become more business savvy and develop efficient, technology-driven businesses. We need to upskill talent and make them ready for the post-COVID recovery period — the global services programme will play a significant role in this,” she added.
AGRIBUSINESS AND NOT JUST AGRICULTURE
Speaking in relation to agriculture, the economic investment and development agency’s head said that this industry, of all the others, will have a significant role to play as it overlaps directly and thus must be properly developed.
“Agribusiness/agriculture, we think, will be one of the most resilient businesses to come out of COVID-19. It is one of the industries that underpins the economy because we have to eat, we have to feed our children through the school feeding programme, we have to feed the tourists who will return to our shores, and we also have to feed the population.
“We think agribusiness will be a very strong business, and I think the opportunity that we need to take advantage of in this period is to focus on how we can shore up our agribusiness sector and make it much more viable, efficient, and technologically-driven,” she further said.
The JAMPRO president shared the view that currently what most farmers have been practising is tantamount to agriculture in its simplest form, highlighting that her agency along with the ministry will be working to retool these farmers with the requisite skills and technology needed to undertake best practices in the area.
She mentioned internationally funded projects to come on stream including modernisation of the agricultural sector and the rural agricultural initiative, which are aimed at training and upskilling farmers.
“We feel our farmers have been doing agriculture and not agribusiness. We want them to see agriculture as a business and to improve their livelihoods through it,” she said.
Source: The Jamaica Observer
By: Kellaray Miles