The success of the state's agricultural sector depends on its ability to meet domestic, regional, and international market demand for selected fresh agricultural products on a consistent basis and at competitive prices.
Historically, the Caribbean traditionally has been a net importer of processed foods and an exporter of raw agricultural products, primarily raw sugar, rice, cocoa, coffee, and bananas, most of which tend to be further transformed in non-regional markets.
For instance, in 2021 864,464 tonnes of bananas were exported from the Caribbean Region, that is 14% more volume than in 2020.
Traditional goods bring in an impressive revenue, take up most of the productive agricultural lands and provide employment to a large part of communities and other participants in the commodity chain.
Due to its favourable climate, frequent rainfall and fertile farmland, crops including vegetables, bananas, mangoes, pineapples, and much more naturally grow in the Caribbean. Every island has their signature products such as Antigua having mangoes and St. Lucia growing bananas. Root crops are also being grown including the sweet potato and casava, which are also staples in the diets of the local population. Many of the islands also grow citrus crops including limes, lemons, oranges, and grapefruits. Now the Caribbean is searching for the ways to grow raspberries because they were found in the Dominican Republic and farmers are striving to develop this market.
The citrus industry in the Caribbean is one of the leading in the world with many of the Caribbean countries growing limes, lemons, oranges, and grapefruit. Several of the countries have also build vibrant export industries for citrus fruits including Belize, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Citrus fruits are grown at a temperature of about 33 degrees Celsius. The best amount of precipitation is on average from 1,250 to 1,500 mm (50” to 60”) per year. It should also be noted that for the proper cultivation of citrus requires a high degree of soil fertility.
Jamaica’s citrus production is not as significant as sugar, but it provides sufficient supplies for local consumption and exports. The main growing areas are Clarendon, St. Catherine, St. Mary, St. Anne, Manchester, and Westmoreland between altitudes of 300 feet to 2,500 feet (100 m to 760 m).
Citrus production in Dominica is the main industry for exports, along with bananas and coconuts. The main areas of production are in the Layou River Valley and on the southwest coast. During many years, Dominica has been a major country of fruit production.
Mangoes over the years have increased in popularity and several Caribbean islands export a significant number of mangoes. These include Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Jamaica; but several other islands also export small number of mangoes globally.
When it comes to pineapples, Guyana, as well as the Dominican Republic are leading exporting countries in the Caribbean for this fruit.
The global trade in tropical fruits will keep on expanding. The Caribbean has shown that, though it has limited arable land to grow on, it still takes leading places among the international players in the tropical fruit industry. To expand its market share, however, will necessitate the adoption of innovative strategies for meeting the challenges, which face the fruit sub-sector.