Roots and tubers: A potential cash cow in the Caribbean

Slimdown 360’s instant mash products have a shelf life of 1 year (Photo via Spore)
Slimdown 360’s instant mash products have a shelf life of one year (Photo via Spore)

Root and tuber crops (RTCs) such as arrowroot, cassava, dasheen, eddoe, ginger, sweet potato, tania and yam are farmed throughout the Caribbean and remain a staple of traditional diets. Belize, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname and some eastern Caribbean countries are self-sufficient in RTCs with Jamaica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines leading regional exports.

However, with the capacity to create value-added products for local consumption and export, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has identified cassava, sweet potato and yam with the highest potential for development.

RTC crops can withstand up to 98 per cent of hurricane disasters and have good potential even as regional climate patterns change, as planting material can be sourced locally, and farmers are familiar with RTC production. RTCs are also valued for their ‘good’ complex carbohydrates, which provide better glycemic indices (food’s effect on a person’s blood sugar), compared to imported refined carbohydrates; they are also high in dietary fibre and low in calorie count, which are important considerations for health-conscious markets in Europe.

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COTED urged to reassess orientation of external trade

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A review of the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) external trade relations, strengthened capacity, and Member States’ strong support of each other will ensure that the Region is in a better position to confront the challenges it faces.

This is the view of Suriname Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, the Hon. Ferdinand Welzijn, Chairman of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) now underway at the Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown, Guyana.

In remarks at the opening of the two-day Meeting Thursday morning, the Minister alluded to global development challenges, including the consequences anticipated from the withdrawal of Great Britain from the European Union (EU).

“For us to be better equipped and face all these challenges we must first work on strengthening the capacities of our communities and strongly support each other, to achieve economic growth and welfare for all of us in the Region”, Minister Welzijn said.

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Full, safe, unhindered access to Single Market needed for sustainable growth – COTED Chair

Chairman of COTED,  the Hon. Ferdinand Welzijn, Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry of Suriname
Chairman of COTED, the Hon. Ferdinand Welzijn, Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry of Suriname

The private sector’s full, safe and unhindered access to the CARICOM Single Market was important for the promotion and  sustainability of economic growth, Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry of Suriname, the Hon. Ferdinand Welzijn, said on Thursday.

Delivering remarks at the opening of the Forty-Fourth Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) in Georgetown, Guyana, Minister Welzijn, who is chairing the Meeting, said that development depended on public-private partnership.

 “After all it is the private sector that trades and does business,” he pointed out.

His remarks were made in the context of one the main  item for discussion at the Meeting – the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).  The Minister said that his background in the private sector provided a full understanding of the concerns and frustration of entrepreneurs who were facing trade difficulties within CARICOM. (more…)

‘We must do better’ – CARICOM SG (with Video)

CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry of Suriname, the Hon Ferdinand Welzijn and Assistant Secretary-General, Trade and Economic Integration, Mr.  Joseph Cox at the opening of the 44th Meeting of COTED
CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry of Suriname, the Hon Ferdinand Welzijn and Assistant Secretary-General, Trade and Economic Integration, Mr. Joseph Cox at the opening of the 44th Meeting of COTED

While the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has significantly advanced the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), “we must do better”, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Secretary-General said Thursday.

“Yes, we have done a lot, but we must do better.

“The private sector is asking us to do better.

“The people of the Region are asking us to do better”, the Secretary-General said.

He was at the time delivering remarks at the opening of the Forty-Fourth Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) at the Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown, Guyana. The COTED is responsible for the promotion of trade and economic development of CARICOM. In particular, it is required to oversee the development, operation and implementation of the CSME.

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Working together – CARICOM SG, Ambassadors and Heads of Community Institutions

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Work to strengthen the Region’s governance and implementation structures continued Thursday with the first joint meeting of the CARICOM Secretary-General, Heads of Community Institutions and the CARICOM Committee of Ambassadors  at the Pegasus Hotel, Georgetown, Guyana.

Thursday’s exchanges followed the fifth Meeting of the Committee of Ambassadors, held at the CARICOM Secretariat, also in Georgetown, on Wednesday. The Committee plays an important role in the governance structure of the Community, providing strategic advice and recommendations to the Community Council towards advancing the integration movement.

The Heads of Community Institutions  meet regularly with the Secretary-General to seek to harmonise efforts towards implementation of the CARICOM Strategic Plan.

Several participants joined the meeting via video conference.