While Jamaica Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller's first official visit to Canada ended prematurely as Hurricane Sandy bore down on her country, it nevertheless proved to be productive.
Following a meeting between Simpson Miller and her Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper, Canada's leader announced two initiatives aimed at promoting sustainable economic growth in the Caribbean region.
"Canada shares a special and historic relationship with Jamaica and other countries in the Caribbean. Our government is committed to deepening these close ties, while helping the region achieve sustainable economic growth," the Canadian prime minister said.
"The initiatives announced today will help local producers access high value markets, and assist communities in the region to manage and respond to natural disasters."
Through the Promotion of Regional Opportunities for Produce through Enterprises and Linkages (PROPEL) project, the Canadian Hunger Foundation (CHF) will work with the Caribbean Farmers Network to enable farmers to increase the quality and quantity of fresh, regionally grown fruits and vegetables, and help connect them with buyers such as grocery chains, cruise lines, airlines, hotels and restaurants.
PROPEL, which is supported by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)'s Caribbean Programme, will also enable producers to maintain internationally accepted food quality and safety standards. The projects initial focus will be on Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, Barbados and Guyana.
The second initiative unveiled by Harper, the Community Disaster Risk Reduction project, will be implemented by the Caribbean Development Bank and supported by CIDA's Caribbean Programme and will assist more than 15 Caribbean communities in managing and responding to natural disasters, thus mitigating the negative social and economic impact of these incidents.
The two new projects announced this week complement other Canadian initiatives, which aim to build a more prosperous and integrated Caribbean community.