Over 20 female agro-processors are currently participating in a training program to enhance their business acumen and marketing skills.
These sessions, organized through a partnership between the Ministry of Agriculture and the International Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), commenced Monday evening at the Agriculture Extension Division on Kentish Road.
The National Specialist for IICA revealed that UN Women financially supports this initiative.
IICA serves as the implementing organization in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The primary objective is to assist female entrepreneurs operating small businesses in the agricultural sector.
“The project is Building Effective Resilience for Human Security in the Caribbean, the Imperative of gender equality and Women Empowerment in a Strengthen Agriculture and Related Fisheries for the Small Business Sector.
“In Antigua and Barbuda, our activities kicked off on Monday evening where we had 24 women, including four youths and we covered product development. Our activities will run over a 6-night period for two hours each night. We will look at different areas within the Agri-business sector that will help support these women. we will also look at standards, food safety, marketing labeling and branding, social media, and ICT”, Thomas said.
Monday evening’s sessions were led by Jesse Thomas, an expert from the Ministry of Tourism’s Agro-Tourism Department.
Thomas delved into product development, addressing critical aspects such as pricing strategies, input and supply costs, economies of scale, local market potential, and the challenges posed by imported products in the market.
During his presentation, Thomas emphasized the importance of collaboration and resource pooling among the participants, suggesting the formation of a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) to enhance their competitiveness.
Moving forward, Tuesday night’s session focused on standards, while Wednesday’s agenda centered on food safety. Thursday will feature sessions dedicated to marketing and labeling strategies.
“There will also be a market study tour where these ladies will have an opportunity to visit some of our local supermarkets where they will meet representatives who will be able to critique their product and give them insight into what it takes for a local product to meet the shelves of some of our local supermarkets”, Thomas added.
He said they will also work to collate a database with all the agro-processors within the industry, allowing them to know the stakeholders within the field. That information will also be shared with anyone interested in the sector.