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Guyanese manufacturing executive gives Caribbean lessons on improving agriculture

At left: Managing Director of Demerara Distillers Limited, Komal Samaroo.

At left: Managing Director of Demerara Distillers Limited, Komal Samaroo.

A top official of the Caribbean Community’s (Caricom) largest rum producer on Wednesday recommended a raft of steps to help improve the growth and competitiveness of the region’s agricultural sector and overall business innovation.

Managing Director of Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL), Komal Samaroo told the Caribbean Week of Agriculture’s (CWA) Alliance Meeting – Strategies for Attracting Investments into Agriculture that a two-pronged approach towards education is required.

On the one hand, he said the education sector needs to focus on providing practical hands-on exposure to students through work-study stints to help young people cultivate their entrepreneurial skills.

Still on education, Samaroo further called for consumers to educated about the value and importance of healthy food consumption, as part of efforts to stimulate demand and production. “We need to educate the consumers in the region about the policy of healthy lifestyles and eating fresh and the things that we produce here,” he said. “We need to promote the wholesomeness of the food that we produce here in the Caribbean.”

Samaroo- in his presentation traced DDL’s strategic shift away from bulk commodity rum exports to branded bottled rums as well as the production of juices made from locally-grown fruits-further advised that increased demand could be stimulated by separate and differentiate local from foreign products “to make the choice that is in the interest of the wider society.” “I believe that there is a need to find the mechanism to differentiate and separate products that are produced from indigenous agricultural produce so that consumers of the region are empowered to make the choice,” he said.

The Guyanese business executive, who has lived in Canada for 10 years when he promoted premium DDL rums there, also used the opportunity to call on Caricom decision-makers to register trademarks across the trade and economic bloc with a “single registration” like how that is done for 55 countries under the Madrid Treaty.

He said a single trademark registration would help heighten enhance the profile of Caribbean brands to ensure sustainability and success. “We need to make it easy for entrepreneurs to create Caribbean brands and these brands will attract foreign investment as they become more and more successful. They give visibility to opportunities in the agricultural sector,” he told the forum which included Caricom Secretary General , Irwin La Rocque, and top officials of the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute.

The DDL boss called on governments to promote cross-marketing of locally food produced food alongside tourism, health and education.

Another recommendation coming from the DDL Managing Director is the fast-tracking of the process of Geographical Indicators to explore the unique aspects of the Caribbean’s history in its products.

Caribbean Week of Agriculture, organized by the Netherlands-based Technical Centre for Rural Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), is being hosted this year by the Cayman Islands.

CTA is financed by the European Union and the 77-nation group of former European colonies in Africa=, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP).