The Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) has opened a renovated agro-processing incubator as it looks to boost production and export among micro and small agro-processors.
The project was funded by the European Union (EU), managed by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and implemented by the JBDC.
Speaking during Monday’s (November 13) grand opening at the JBDC’s Incubator Resource Centre in Kingston, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Senator the Hon. Aubyn Hill, said it is a significant milestone in Jamaica’s path towards entrepreneurial excellence.
“The initiative is a vital step in our journey at the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, aligning perfectly with our strategic goal to develop and strengthen industry value chains for export,” he said.
The Minister shared that micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) contribute significantly to Jamaica’s gross domestic product, approximately 44 per cent, noting that integrating them into a robust export value chain is crucial to boosting their growth potential and enhancing the country’s economic prosperity and global market presence.
JBDC Incubator and Resource Centre Manager for Technical Services, Colin Porter, detailed that six critical pieces of equipment were acquired for filling, packaging and production of a variety of products, including beverages, sauces, condiments, dry mixes, purées and pastries.
“We moved from approximately 600 sq. ft. to a total of 1,000 sq. ft. because we were constrained just by the physical limitations of the space itself. However, this expansion will now allow us to more efficiently allow our clients to carry out product development activities as well as production activities,” he said.
Mr. Porter shared that the incubator is staffed with an agro-industry process supervisor, food technologist, food development specialist and incubator assistant, who work with clients to transform their ideas or samples into world-class products.
He said the JBDC is working towards achieving Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000 for the incubator, “which will mean that we will be truly ready to export throughout the world”.
Meanwhile, Advisor to the CDB Vice-President of Operations, Dr. Darran Newman, pointed out that agriculture plays a critical role in the fabric of Caribbean societies.
“It serves, not only as a source of sustenance but also a cornerstone of our economy, providing income for millions. This agro-processing incubator is definitely a symbol of our commitment to nurturing and cultivating a culture of entrepreneurship and excellence within this agro-processing domain,” Dr. Newman said.
She further noted that through collaboration, mentorship and access to state-of-the-art facilities, Jamaica’s pool of agricultural entrepreneurs is poised to grow.
“This is a testament to our unwavering belief in the potential of agriculture to be a driving force for progress and prosperity,” Dr. Newman stated.
The JBDC is an agency of the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, mandated to provide business development services to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.