Monday, July 15, 2024

Rising Interest from Diaspora Investors in Jamaica’s Agricultural Sector: A Look at the SPAD Project


Jamaica’s Agriculture Sector Captures Attention of Diaspora Investors

The Southern Plains Agricultural Development (SPAD) project is drawing significant interest from Jamaican Diaspora investors, marking a pivotal moment in the development of the island’s agricultural sector. This initiative, centered around enhancing crop production in the St Catherine and Clarendon areas, aims to substantially transform over 795 hectares of land with state-of-the-art infrastructure, modern irrigation systems, and improved road networks.

Under the leadership of the Government of Jamaica, with backing from international entities such as the United Kingdom’s Caribbean Infrastructure Development Fund and the Caribbean Development Bank, the SPAD project emerges as a critical venture in agriculture. The Agro-Investment Corporation (AIC), operating under the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining, manages the project, reflecting the government’s commitment to agricultural advancement.

The announcement of this project was a highlight at the 10th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference, which took place from June 16 to 19 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre. The conference attracted around 50 exhibitors, including private sector businesses and smaller enterprises, all present at the ‘Government-At-Your-Service’ exposition to showcase their products and services.

From the onset, the SPAD project has garnered attention and interest from the local farming community and the Jamaican diaspora, with AIC Chief Executive Officer, Vivion Scully, noting an influx of inquiries and applications. This initiative aims to enhance the land available for orchard crops such as mangoes, breadfruit, ackee, and avocado, designating around 300 acres for these varieties.

Investors and farmers looking to participate in this transformative project are encouraged to engage with the AIC, either by applying online or reaching out directly to obtain more information on crop production and application procedures. This project promises to convert the Amity Hall/Bridge Pen and Parnassus regions into highly productive agricultural zones. Plans are in place to allocate these lands to investors by year’s end, with the completion of essential irrigation infrastructure anticipated by the following September. Additionally, eligible investors might receive startup grants to kickstart their agricultural projects.

Apart from focusing on the production of traditional and orchard crops, the SPAD project also aims to enhance Jamaica’s economy by boosting the agriculture sector’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from the current eight to nine percent. The initiative is expected to create export opportunities, meeting overseas demand, and contributing to Jamaica’s overall economic development.

With the theme ‘United for Jamaica’s Transformation: Fostering Peace, Productivity and Youth Empowerment’, this year’s Diaspora Conference has garnered support from numerous partners and sponsors, including major Jamaican corporations and international stakeholders. This collective effort underscores the widespread recognition of the potential impact such agriculture-focused investments can have on Jamaica’s path to sustainable growth.

Alexandra Bennett
Alexandra Bennett
Alexandra Bennett is a seasoned business journalist with over a decade of experience covering the global economy, finance, and corporate strategies. With a Bachelor's degree in Economics and a Master's in Business Journalism from Columbia University, Alexandra has built a reputation for her insightful analysis and ability to break down complex economic trends into understandable narratives. Prior to joining our team, she worked for major financial publications in New York and London. Alexandra specializes in mergers and acquisitions, market trends, and economic

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