Formalizing Operators in the Jamaican Agriculture & Fisheries Sector
The Agriculture sector forms an important part of the Jamaican economy, accounting for 7.3 % of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2018. This sector is characterised by a prevalence of farmers operating informally despite their significance to rural development and the general economy. It is estimated that approximately 43% of the Jamaican economy operates informally which is even a stauncher reality where workers in the agriculture sector is concerned.
In Jamaica, the challenges for informal operators include the lack of appropriate financing, limited technology use, inadequate use of innovation, insufficient market intelligence, business development and capacity constraints and difficulties navigating the business environment. In addition, these operators have the propensity to stay small, which could limit their ability to take advantage of formal contracts and export.
The Government of Jamaica, is therefore keen in addressing the challenges confronting MSME informality through programmes and projects that enhances their competitiveness, innovation, productivity and internationalisation. More specifically, the government aims to transition informal operators in the agricultural sector into formal Micro, Small & Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs).
The objective of targeting the MSME sector as the primary driver for economic growth is in full alignment with several national plans and policies of the government. It is within the foregoing context that the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce (MIIC) are keen to collaborate with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLLS), and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to undertake an initiative to transform 100 registered farmers and fisheries with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) into formal operators, and to develop a model that would enable them move along the MSME continuum.