GraceKennedy continues to support small farmers


GraceKennedy continues to support small farmers

Company assessing how it can help with surplus produce

Business reporter

Sunday, April 05, 2020

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GraceKennedy Limited (GK) has said that it will be assessing how to assist small farmers, especially in light of the recent predicament brought on the sector as a result of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Several local farmers have expressed their frustration with having tonnes in excess produce and a lack of market — due to the temporary closure of the hotel industry, one of their primary customers.

In light of this, GK Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Don Wehby last week ,in speaking with the Jamaica Observer, said that the food and financial services conglomerate, which has a long-standing relationship with farmers, will be seeing how best it can help to offload some of the excess produce.

“We are looking at what more we are able to do in terms of beefing up that support, especially in light of what is happening now. Between our factories and our network of 12 Hi-Lo supermarkets, we think we're in a position to purchase some of the surplus fruits and vegetables from farmers who find themselves in a predicament now,” he shared.

“We're currently talking to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF) and its agencies, including Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), to assess the extent of the surplus crops and to determine what level of assistance we can provide,” he further stated.

Wehby said that GK — since the opening of its agro-processor plant in Hounslow, St Elizabeth some 10 years ago — has been working with Jamaican farmers in a very serious way and has maintained a good relationship with them. He noted that the company currently purchases a significant amount of agricultural raw materials and semi-finished products, both directly and indirectly, from more than 40 local farmers.

“We have six factories in Jamaica, two of which — Grace agro-processors, Hounslow and Grace agro-processors, Denbigh — are involved in agro-processing, Grace Food Processors Meats, a meat processor, and Grace food processors Canning producing juice drinks. These four factories purchase from these 40 farmers,” he told Sunday Finance.

He said that while the difficulties of the COVID-19 crisis may have adversely affected their operations, farmers are a group of workers who have been making significant contributions to many businesses, including GK.

“They have made a great contribution to the growth of our business, and we in turn have great respect for them. We know they're experiencing a tough time now, and we are willing to do what we can to help change that, because we want to see them do well,” he said.


RADA recently announced that through a partnership with the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) it has received six laptop computers and six cellphones at a cost of $1.5 million which will help its staff working from home to have access to the Agri-linkages Exchange (ALEX) platform and help small farmers to sell excess produce.

With this platform that was established to bridge the gap and allow for the exchange of goods between sellers (farmers) and buyers (tourism stakeholders), farmers can now easily connect with supermarkets and other marketing sources, in order to move their produce from the field and secure better returns during this difficult time.

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