PHOTO: YHOMO HUTCHINSON: Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson (right); Acting Permanent Secretary, Dermon Spence (second right); and Director, CNET Group Incorporated, Robert Thompson (second left), sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the implementation of the OUTAONE Agro-Economic Zone Project. Observing are President, CNET Group, Errol Bailey (left); and Chief Technical Director for Special Projects in the Ministry, Courtney Cole. The signing took place on Monday (March 4), at the Ministry’s Hope Gardens headquarters in St. Andrew.
The government of Jamaica and CNET Group Incorporated/OUTAONE EXCHANGE have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) aimed at providing a framework for achieving the objectives of the OUTAONE Agro-Economic Zone Project.
The initiative is geared towards selling and exporting produce coming out of the agro-economic zones being established across the island through a public-private partnership. One such facility is expected to open in St. Elizabeth in August, with four others to be set up throughout the country.
Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, said that the MOU signals an important step in making the zones a reality for the growth of the agriculture sector. He was speaking at the signing ceremony held at the Ministry’s Hope Gardens offices in St. Andrew on Monday (March 4).
Under the Agro-Economic Zone Project, OUTAONE will develop Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP)-certified processing facilities throughout Jamaica, creating a one-stop shop for farmers. The farmers will have the opportunity to sell their produce in the commodities market, or open an account with the OUTAONE EXCHANGE to accept payments for goods as well as investments for future crops.
The Ministry, for its part, will provide the lands necessary for the project by way of a lease; ensure that enrolled farmers are best suited for the project, and adhere to quotas set; facilitate access to government resources/assistance as needed, and facilitate international linkages and market support.
Director, CNET Group Incorporated, Robert Thompson, said that the project will help to satisfy the demands of the overseas market.
“As a Jamaican, I am very honoured to play a role in the economic development of this country… The [overseas] market is there, but we just have to be prepared…. We just have to put the right systems in place,” he added.
OUTAONE EXCHANGE is a regionally focused initiative aimed at revolutionising and unlocking the economic potential of the diaspora through farming, agro-processing, marketing, and financing.