Maybe if Treanna Lindo had followed her passion in Veterinary Science or the view that agriculture is for men, many Jamaicans would have missed the opportunity to harvest their full potential in agriculture and business. And just maybe, many Jamaican agro-processed products that sit on shelves in supermarkets globally would not even make it beyond concept stage.
To some persons, agriculture looks like a poor man’s job or a backyard vegetable garden, but when it comes to Treanna Lindo, Agro-Industry Cluster Supervisor at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), agriculture means business. Treanna is a woman who dominates from ‘Farm to Shelf’. She understands the value of Jamaica’s agricultural sector and is committed to take agriculture to the next level.
“I definitely want to see more women in agriculture, but for it to be promoted as a business and not just something that you do in your backyard or verandah. It’s a profit generating opportunity,” she told Entrepreneur Weekly as we dug deeper into the seeds she plants in Jamaica’s agricultural sector.
Treanna loved the sciences, so she was compelled to pursue an Associate Degree in General Agriculture at the College of Agriculture, Science, and Education (CASE) after leaving high school, because fate knew the mark Treanna was going to make in Jamaica.
At the beginning of her career in agriculture, for about 2 years, Lindo worked as an Integrated Science teacher at the Islington High School in St. Mary where she was able to train great young minds to harvest their passion in science and agriculture. She moved on to work at the Sugar Company of Jamaica as a Junior Overseer for 4 years, but she couldn’t temper her ambitions. “While I was there, I acquired a Bachelor of Technology degree in Agri-Production and Food Systems Management at CASE,” she said. She continued her career climb at the HEART NSTA Trust Ebony Park Academy for about 10 years in various capacities, including Senior Agro-processing Instructor and later acted as the Head of Section in the Agriculture Unit.
Agro-processing can simply be described as the method of transforming agricultural, forestry and fishery outputs into usable products… ‘Farm to Shelf’. This skill area refers to the subset of manufacturing that processes raw materials and intermediate products derived from the agricultural sector that adds value to it.
Whilst supervising JBDC’s Agro-processing Incubator, Treanna contributes significantly to JBDC’s Jamaica Harvest brand, a line of specialty and gourmet foods ranging from spices, flours, jams and other products made from locally grown produce. “I do product development for the JBDC’s Jamaica Harvest line as well as I assist clients with full on product development,” she explained.
Additionally, she oversees the operations of the food unit and the essential oils unit. “So basically, everything that has to do with organising the programmes and activities that take place at JBDC under those units fall under my scope of responsibilities,” she added.
JBDC & the Cluster Approach to Business Development
According to JBDC CEO, Valerie Veira, data from the field indicates that the lack of a business plan, access to finance and the ability to export are key obstacles to growth within the MSME sector and clustering is an effective means of solving these issues with the help of government and the private sector. “Clusters are a strategic networking of entities engaged in co-related business activities that are linked horizontally, vertically, diagonally (and sometimes virtually) along the value chain that serve towards enhancing the competitiveness of both the individual entity and the cluster of entities,” she explained.
Continuing, she added that cluster activity enables entrepreneurs to acquire critical skills including better management of the value chain, procurement management, marketing, as well as to achieve economies of scale/scope. “It facilitates bonding and fellowship so you know you’re not alone, entrepreneurs share ideas and best practices and they gain greater access to resources such as finance. This type of environment creates the right conditions towards increased profitability,” she said.
The JBDC has supported clustering in a variety of ways, which includes launching its own brands, like Jamaica Harvest.
A Taste of Jamaica…Going Global
Through a partnership with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) the JBDC seeks to enhance the agro-processing industry in a major way, targeting primarily micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), providing them with the production facility to exploit new opportunities in the international market. The initiative, the Increasing the Export Capacity of Micro and Small Agro-Processors Using the Cluster Approach Project includes access to an upgraded food incubator, training in world class agriculture and manufacturing practices and branding and marketing support for the Jamaica Harvest brand. The project, which focuses on growing exports and increasing the economic opportunities available to women and those along the agriculture value chain, is financed by the European Union.
The agro-processing incubator accommodates clients who are engaged in the development and production of beverages, dried products, baked products, sauces & condiments, and seasonings. It is equipped with industry-grade processing equipment and is certified by the Bureau of Standards Jamaica and the Ministry of Health & Wellness. The incubator is supported by a quality control laboratory and clients are supported by the Technical Services team to ensure that proper quality management is practiced in the space.
A woman on a mission to reap the benefits of the strong value chain between agriculture and manufacturing, Treanna has her sights set on much more for her country. “I want to see more persons going into primary agriculture and value addition through manufacturing. This will boost Jamaica’s food security and reduce food imports,” she said. For more information on how JBDC can help you ‘From Concept to Market’, visit www.jbdc.net.