A new investment guide for the Caribbean sweet potato sector

The Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation are launching an investment guide for the sweet potato sector in the Caribbean. The guide highlights the investment potential in the CARIFORUM region’s growing agribusiness sector, with increasing global demand for tubers, added value of cultivating the crop, and the governments’ efforts to promote production and value addition.

The investment guide draws attention to the ease of doing business in the Caribbean due to a common language, strong financial institutions, and an established credit information sharing across the region. Moreover, Caribbean governments are determined to increase agricultural production, weather conditions are good, and soil quality allows for the production of up to three crops per year. This demonstrates the favourable conditions for agricultural investment in the region.

Sweet potatoes are a good candidate for investment thanks to increasing global demand, good relationships with major export markets, and a strong tradition of growing the crop across Caribbean countries.

FAST President and CEO Noemí Perez said, “This guide provides practical information to financial services providers (FSPs) that wish to invest in the sweet potato sector in the Caribbean. FAST hopes that, with the right information, more and more FSPs can tailor their financial products and services to the growing demand in the agricultural sector.”

Three different streams are explored in the investment guide: the macroeconomic profile of the Caribbean, the sweet potato value chain, and the creation of a favourable environment for investment.

Caribbean governments wish to diversify their economies away from traditional sectors such as tourism, rum, banana and sugar. Diversification into sweet potato will take advantage of the region’s well-established agricultural production systems and robust trade relationships with global importers of sweet potatoes.

The sweet potato value chain is similar to those of other commodities, where producers respond to demand and go through various stages before exporting their product. The entire process usually takes five to six months. The guide identifies a specific type of sweet potato in which has a high demand among consumers and the added benefit of a shorter production cycle, which allows production of up to three crops annually.

Increased demand for sweet potatoes from the EU, UK, and US markets provides an excellent investment opportunity for the Caribbean farmers and small and medium-sized enterprises. To reap the benefits of the growing demand, farmers need to obtain financing to improve production capacity and acquire necessary inputs.

CTA Director Michael Hailu added, “Access to finance is one of the critical challenges that small-scale producers across the Caribbean and other regions where we work face in modernising their operations and reap greater benefit from farming. We hope the investment guide will help in attracting badly needed finances to the regions’ promising sweet potato sector.”

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