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Ottley in the Dom. Republic to establish an affordable Agricultural trade to combat rapid rise in food cost

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 cruisetourism, Minister Ottley found it prudent to establish a Dominican Republic / St. Maarten Agricultural trading portal to create an affordable local market of agricultural commodities.

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.

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