Compete Caribbean is a private sector development program that provides technical assistance grants and investment funding to support productive development policies, business climate reforms, clustering initiatives and Small and Medium Size Enterprise development activities in the Caribbean region. The program, jointly funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD), supports projects in 15 Caribbean countries. Projects in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) countries are implemented in partnership with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
Through its Enterprise Innovation Challenge Fund (EICF), Compete Caribbean recently signed a technical cooperation agreement with the Belize Shrimp Growers’ Association (BSGA), granting US$500,000.00 with which to prepare for Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) Certification and to improve its global competitiveness. It is noteworthy that the project is being highlighted by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as a flagship project in the region to lead the way in environmental standards. It is against this background that five major shrimp farms in Belize, accounting for 85% of national production, have united and formed the BSGA farm cluster. This has the potential to put Belize clearly on the map as a source for quality shrimp, produced in environmentally and socially sustainable conditions.
The specific objective of the project will be to improve the capacity of the cluster, to better serve selected niche markets in the Caribbean, North America and Europe. Certification by ASC will give the Belize’s shrimp farmers access to these high-valued markets, from which they would otherwise be excluded. Importantly, the global demand for ASC certified shrimp is expected to lead to long-term supply agreements with certified farms.
EICF Coordinator, Celene Cleland-Gomez said: "We are absolutely delighted that the BSGA was successful in this process. BSGA's success signals that there is incredible innovative capacity in the region at the cluster level and that Compete Caribbean's challenge fund is an effective instrument of support! We are proud to be partnered with the BSGA and we eagerly look forward to working with them in implementation."
Chairman of the BSGA, Alvin Henderson, explained that it is important that all the shrimp farmers have shared values. “Our competition is not internal. We needed to come together to face the global competitiveness and push through on a combined strategy that makes sense.” Henderson concluded by saying: “Compete Caribbean has been a change agent. The partnership with Compete is going to help ensure that we deliver a high quality product and also our values with regards to environmental and social responsibility are principles that Compete Caribbean also appreciates.”
The five cluster stakeholders will be contributing counterpart funds amounting to S$492,000.00 bringing the total project value up to US$1M. January 2014 marks implementation commencement, and the project will be executed within the following 18 months.
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