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Local Agri-Business community forms “Cluster”

Local Agri-Business community forms “Cluster”

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Local Agro- Business Community Mobilises to form VincyKlus

Members of the agro-business community in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are one step closer to forming themselves into a “CLUSTER.”{{more}} The initiative is geared towards the establishment of a legal entity and framework for the functioning of the Cluster in such a way that will guarantee sustainability and competitiveness in the medium to long term.

Clusters are geographic concentrations of interconnected companies, specialized suppliers, service providers, firms in related industries and institutions. Their development results in greater sophistication of firms as they encourage one another to develop global strategies, enter more international markets and source inputs together from various overseas locations to improve their operational efficiencies. This strategic approach to development, with the exception of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, is relatively new to the English speaking Caribbean. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is the first Eastern Caribbean country to implement a project of this nature.

Project Team Leader Rufina Paul says: “The assumptions underlying this initiative are member-participation, commitment, trust and co-operation.”

The entity which will be known as “VincyKlus” has been involved in a series of consultations and discussions over the last few months.

“The series of individual firm interactions, focus group and consultations with members of the Cluster involve a judicious combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods in the search of a credible understanding of the complex real-world situations that characterize the agri-business value chain in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, with a focus on agro-processing,” Paul adds.

Paul also notes that the majority of the agro-processors are women engaged in home-based / cottage industries. As a result, the initiative is committed to ensuring that the process of developing the Cluster takes due account of gender imperatives and house-holds dynamics.”

She adds: “Very often, we ignore these two very important dimensions of our existence which constitute the “invisible” reproductive economy that provides the buoyancy for the productive/ market economy. The participatory and gender-conscious approach being employed is seeking to “unlock” opportunities for the self-propelled development of the Cluster beyond the life of the project.”

The consultations will continue on Thursday, September 23, and will focus on the three to five year Plan of Action for establishing a functioning Cluster – “VincyKlus”.

The project which is being funded by the European Union is being spearheaded by WINFA and the Center for Enterprise Development-CED.