Paramaribo, Suriname – The Caribbean Development Bank is looking to invest US$10 million in agricultural development in Haiti – joining countries such as the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos and Jamaica, who are in varying stages of strengthening investment there.

‘We have 10 million set aside for investment in Agriculture. We will meet with Haiti’s Minister to see how we can invest some of that 10 million in agriculture in Haiti,’ said Luther St Ville, from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). He was addressing a seminar on ‘Haiti Agri-Food systems and Regional Linkages’ at the Caribbean Week of Agriculture held in Suriname from October 6-12.

He added that the CDB had an additional US$2 million that they would be investing in Haiti’s integration into CARICOM. His commitment was followed by a presentation from the Bahamian Ambassador to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), who said that his government had recently signed an agreement with Haiti to boost agricultural trade.

‘The Bahamas a couple months ago signed an agreement for agricultural cooperation with Haiti. Turks and Caicos has also expressed an interest in doing the same,’ said the Bahamian Ambassador, Godfrey Eneas.

At the same time, Suriname’s Minister of Agriculture, Soeresh Algoe, spoke of his country’s willingness to work with Haiti to produce more and reduce the Caribbean’s import bill. ‘Haiti has potential to grow but it needs help and Suriname stands ready in that regard,’ said Algoe. ‘We know Haitians as very hard working and when air traffic gets going between both countries we can do more towards food security.’ There are 5000 Haitians living in Suriname.

His remarks were well received by the seminar participants including members of the Haitian delegation and the Minister of Agriculture of Haiti, Thomas Jacques.

The annual CWA brings together a range of high level officials, policymakers, farmers and youth to decide on priority actions for the region. It is partly sponsored by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA).

The highly anticipated seminar on Haiti also saw the private sector entity, Jamaica Broilers, sharing its success story after starting business there in 2012. ‘We saw that people were not doing poultry as there was no reliable supply of feed and baby chicks – they did not have anybody teaching them how to do it properly and we had that to offer,’ said Richard Sandler, Special Projects Officer in the President’s Office at Jamaica Broilers.

He explained that Haitians consumed over 5 million eggs per year and 5 billion chickens per month – providing a ready market for his company’s products. ‘We invested over US$10 million and we have a new factory and processing plant there,’ Sandler said. ‘We have 3000 people employed in Haiti – directly and indirectly.’

While he said that there were some areas that needed to be improved to make doing business easier there he stressed that the 8 million population of Haiti was a good market awaiting more investment.

‘There is a need for micro-financing – small farmers on the ground in Haiti need help with credit for their small businesses. There is need for more technical assistance. For example there are a limited number of veterinarians in Haiti,’ he said. ‘(But) we believe that Haiti is open for business. Haiti is re-launching its agriculture and there is much opportunity for business in Haiti. We have seen it.’