The purpose of this article is to get our readers to think about Supply Chain Management and not solely about tourism. One of the characteristics of Caribbean Countries is that they are heavily dependent on tourism. Tourism is a major contributor to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) since it creates jobs, brings in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), and strengthens the local economy.
However, the Covid pandemic has disrupted supply chains all over the world. Empty shelves are seen in our supermarkets globally, the prices of goods are increasing drastically, and consumers are being made to suffer.
Another source for economic development is urgently needed in our inflated economy. Supply Chain Management offers that solution; it has been on the back burner for far too long.
Supply Chain Management is not a farfetched concept. Simply put, it has to deal with transforming raw materials into final products. In other words, all the details that go into the production process, from planning, sourcing, and packaging, all the way to the final stage of delivery.
As Small Island Developing States (SIDS), we have a major role to play in the supply of goods, products, and services amongst ourselves, and beyond our shores.
Only a few of us can produce and export goods. It would be a beneficial move for us if we were to collaborate and look at constructing strategically-placed factories and sharing raw materials to facilitate production. When the final product is achieved, the benefits are insurmountable and can be shared.
These benefits include employment opportunities, increased revenue, and tax reduction. We can seek to export both within the Caribbean as well as globally. A move like this would make the region a stronger force when it comes to production and exports.
Working together would unify us, and allow us to be recognized on the world stage. This will attract foreign investors and encourage them to build and invest in the factories here.
Consider, our ‘Fever Grass’, a plant that is rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, B, and C, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, folate, and iron. As its name suggests, fever grass is used in medicine to treat fever in children and a variety of ailments in all population ages. How about we produce fever grass tea bags and then seek ways to export? We can also stock them in our supermarkets.
What about our ‘sweet, juicy mangoes’ and our island treasure, ‘Antigua Black Pineapples’? We can transform these natural resources into products like local juices or local jams that can be sold locally, and internationally.
We shouldn’t be making smoothies with Dole pineapples when we have the best pineapples in Antigua. Can the government provide land to facilitate large-scale production? Why are we driving and noticing all our mangoes on the ground during mango season? Avenues should be sought to export these mangoes and have them stocked on our supermarket shelves.
How can we cure these products so that they are available when they are not in season?
I am sure that there is a plethora of natural resources on our island that can be used, however, the list of natural resources cannot be exhausted in this letter. Local farmers need to be educated and supported. An educational workshop to enlighten our farmers in this regard would prove to be rewarding. Yes, we are not as technologically advanced as other developed countries. Yes, the Tourism Industry is an important contributor to our (GDP). Can we go beyond tourism and capitalize on our natural resources to foster employment and development on our beautiful small island?
Baptiste, Barlow, Knowles & Rolland