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Switching to a more demanding and successful commodity


Editor: Isn’t there a cognitive dissonance when in one paragraph the Ministry of Agriculture states that there is a glut in the banana/plantain market and in the next paragraph says it is hoping to increase local production? Wouldn’t one think that the natural reaction to a glut would be to switch focus to a commodity with more demand and higher profit?{{more}} Cocoa, coffee, and tea are profitably grown and processed on islands in the Caribbean with great success. The key is “grown and PROCESSED.” The successful marketers of the above products grow AND PROCESS — they make an end product: chocolate bars and cocoa, bags of roasted coffee, tea in cans or bags, ready to brew, eagerly purchased as specialty products by niche market consumers worldwide.

Fools pick and sell, to an off-island buyer, wet cocoa beans, coffee beans off the tree, tea leaves in gunny sacks. The countries making money from their agricultural sector grow, process, and turn out a finished product. The growers and field hands make money, the processor and packager employ workers who make money, and the local entrepreneur/manufacturer, who markets and exports the finished product, makes money.

The business environment that affords this is fostered by forward looking island governments, who are less concerned with demagoguery and more concerned with promoting real investment in enterprises that are sustainable and can provide employment for the existing workforce, agricultural and non-agricultural, with a minimum of training or retraining. It is not only doable; it has been and is being successfully done. Maybe the next Government…