Perfect the simple things like – discipline.

Solomoni Mathewsella


The Caribbean islands are jewels in the ocean and Cayman Islands has been nothing but incredible in every regard.

Agribusiness and tourism in practise

From fancy hotel rooms, to spectacular beaches, impeccable is a word that is felt here in the Cayman Islands. White House DJs at beach parties playing calypso and soca music, where you lose yourself sipping on rum and coconut water.

It was relishing these sights and sounds that made me realize I was ‘sold the experience’ (something I’ve heard so many times in these agribusiness conferences) and I bought it!

Yes, I bought it and I’m thinking I would definitely buy it again.

Nevertheless, catching myself in this infatuation and considering the reason I’m here, I had to take a step back in order to objectively analyse these layers of sights and sounds.

See what’s working and what could work in the other Caribbean Islands and even the Pacific. I had to see things from the theme: investing in food and agriculture.

Not just this wonderful tourist destination that has seemed to accomplish a level of tourism and branding.

The conference – CWA

The conference kick started, and sessions delved into the specifics of sustainable and profitable value chains in the Caribbean and linkages between trade and transport.

More specifically, in the bridging the gap between financiers and entrepreneurs session.

Financial transactions and credit union requirements were what the conversations were centred around. Just like how the average farmer that doesn’t know anything about finance but the fact that they need it to start up or give their business the much needed push.

I sat there a bit confused.

However, the lesson learnt was something we could all relate to. No, not delayed repayments. It was discipline.

This revelation during a technical discussion on financial lending and book keeping came about as the most begged question made it to the microphone – What actually worked? How it was done?

Mr. Neil Gomes of Anointed Farms said that he has noticed that financial institutions are more interested in the way farmers perform transactions of business rather than the daily book keeping. T

hey may downplay the requirement of the ability to pay them back though it is important. The main thing they look at is how a farmer does his business despite the many challenges that a farmer goes through.

To that effect, Mr. Aaron Moses of Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions stated that discipline was one of the major things that a farmer has control over that can make or break his business.

To illustrate, Mr Moses explained that 80% of farmers that are successful in getting a loan from the credit union still face challenges.

A farmer may use some of the money to buy a much needed vehicle he thought was critical to productivity and efficient business. On Monday, he notices that he doesn’t have fertilizer. He drives down to town and gets carried away running other errands.

He returns at 12pm. Spending time in town rather than being productive on the farm. This may happen again on Wednesday. His family may need him to do something for them since he has a vehicle. Then his colleagues in the farming community asks for help.

Therefore, in some cases productivity declines by 50% because they could not manage what they thought would be an enabler.

Another example is in how payments are done. These institutions may give advanced payments to farmers with the rest paid out at the end of the year as a bonus payment, which in some cases is a significant lump sum.

Practise has seen that some of the farmers approach the credit institutions seeking permission on using the funds to respond to challenges of the society like family needs.

On the whole, most small farmers and small businesses are negatively impacted by their approach to money management and money personality.

Plus, a lack of understanding of savings, investment and future consumption.

These are things that are not taught in schools but will help them go a long way if they are addressed.


Copyright © 2016, CTA. Technical Centre for Rural and Agricultural Cooperation

CTA is a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU). CTA operates under the framework of the Cotonou Agreement and is funded by the EU.