PHILIPSBURG--Acting Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation
& Telecommunication (TEATT) Omar Ottley is currently in the Dominican
Republic, attending the 28th annual Florida - Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) conference. Although the conference is based on cruise tourism, Minister
Ottley found it prudent to establish a Dominican Republic / St. Maarten
Agricultural trading portal to create an affordable local market of
Minister Ottley and his delegation
from the Ministry of TEATT met with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Affairs and
International Cooperation Mr. Hugo Rivera Fernandez and the Agribusiness board
representatives to inquire about the Dominican Republic's ability to supply St.
Maarten with agricultural products.
The Minister stated that his
concern is the capacity of sufficient
and affordable natural food supply
for the population. While it
remains a vital objective to
maximize the farming potential on St. Maarten.
At present we are faced with high
global inflation and rising food cost. "We must have a more immediate
approach to sustaining the population's need for food."Ottley said.
According to Minister Ottley, a
critical discussion point was ensuring that the Dominican Republic understands
the need for high-quality produce that fits international standards. "We
expressed our need to ensure that the necessary sanitary and other
health-related certificates are always provided." Currently the Dominican
Republic is one of the largest exporters in produce in our region. The produce
is shipped from the Dominican Republic to America and St. Maarten ships a great portion of its produce directly from America. The Minister expressed that this is
an opportunity to cut out the middle man and deal directly with the source.
This agricultural trade relationship will be able to cut the cost of produce on
St. Maarten by approximately 15% - 20%.
St. Maarten is doing its due
diligence to ensure that it has a good understanding of the supply chain and
its key players, as well as visit the various farms to get a first-hand look at
the farming method. During that time, the Ministry will pay keen attention to
the preparation, packaging and shipping of goods.
"The Ministry is in process of
determining what products should be
imported to St. Maarten as soon as possible. This is especially important to
protect the small but growing Agricultural produce supply in our country
," said Ottley.
On his return, the Ministry will
commence discussions with local stakeholders in the supermarket, wholesale and
retail divisions to determine the level of interest in importing produce from
the Dominican Republic at competitive prices for resale.
"Once we can get this supply
channel going, it means our people can buy high-quality products at the lowest
possible cost. This is especially important during an economically challenging
period for every household on the island," said Ottley.