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ITC and Caribbean partners join forces to boost value addition in Suriname

5 May 2023
ITC News

ITC's Alliances for Action has joined forces with the EU, CARIFORUM, and Caribbean partners to help Surinamese MSMEs showcase coconut products at Suriname Agrofair.

Made in Suriname: Boosting local value addition at Suriname Agrofair

‘Effective marketing is essential for MSMEs to stand out in crowded global markets,’ says Ratan Kalka, Manager of Business Support Services at Suriname Business Forum. ‘Participating in trade fairs like this one in Paramaribo is one of many strategies to leverage.’

In Suriname, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (LVV) has organized an agricultural fair to showcase the country’s agricultural diversity and create new commercial opportunities.

Under the umbrella of its EU funded programme, the International Trade Centre’s Alliances for Action initiative has partnered with the Suriname Business Forum, the Suriname Standards Bureau, and CELOS to enable the participation of coconut small farmers and agri-processors from its network in the fair.

Suriname’s Agrofair is a three-day event that launched today, May 5th, and is expected to attract participation of an estimated 15,000 - 20,000 people. ITC and its partners aim to spotlight innovative enterprises there with a sustainable approach and to raise the visibility of Suriname’s coconut value chain.

Trade fair participation is an opportunity to link processors to distributors and reinforce autonomy and resilience in Suriname’s agribusiness sector.


Boosting value addition in Suriname for less import reliance

As the world grapples with the quadruple shock of COVID-19, climate change, conflict and cost-of-living, small island Caribbean states are rushing to reduce their reliance on imports. Heads of Government of CARICOM have committed to reducing the region’s large food import bill by 25% by 2025. This means investing in local value addition and scaling up regional trade.

Locally produced Virgin Coconut Oil and other coconut products could compete directly with imported products and help reduce the region’s import bill, as well as boost job creation and help build greener regional agricultural value chains with a farm to shelf approach, starting with quality on the farm.

‘High-quality coconut planting material and good agricultural practices can help smallholder farmers and MSMEs to become more competitive and resilient, improving their productivity, quality, access to markets, and ability to withstand challenges,’ says Chanderdew Kesharie, Deputy Director Region Center of LVV.

The International Trade Centre’s ‘Caribbean: Development of value added products and intra-regional trade to enhance livelihoods from coconuts’ programme, funded by the European Union (EU) and supported by CARICOM, seeks to support these goals and is working with regional partners for concrete results. Main activities include capacity building on value addition, food safety and sustainable processing from farm to shelf, as well as building market linkages and attracting regional investment.

To compete with imports on the local market, local value-added products must offer superior quality, competitive pricing, effective marketing, innovative products, and support for local initiatives. In Suriname, ITC’s Alliances for Action has partnered with the Suriname Standards Bureau to help local producers leverage these strategies to attract and retain customers in the face of foreign competition.

‘My marketing goals as an entrepreneur making made-in-Caribbean coconut products are to build brand awareness, establish a unique selling proposition, build customer loyalty and expand distribution channels. This is how I plan to grow my business and reach a wider audience with my products’, says Ricardo Vriesde, a coconut processor from VOORUITSTREVEND N.V. in Suriname.


About the project

The International Trade Centre’s Alliances for Action, the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and important regional and national partners have been working since 2015 to facilitate alliances among actors at every step of the Caribbean coconut value chain through the ‘Caribbean: Development of value added products and intra-regional trade to enhance livelihoods from coconuts’ CARIFORUM programme funded by the European Union.

Sustainable agriculture and processing practices, value addition and commercial alliances are some of the key tools leveraged. The goal of the project is to increase food availability and incomes of small-scale farmers through improved competitiveness of the coconut sector.