Antigua & Barbuda has a land area of 442 km2 (Antigua 280 km2 and Barbuda 162 km2), a coastline of 153 km. and the largest EEZ for fishing in the Eastern Caribbean with 103,000 km2. Some 30% of land is arable, with 18% in use. Within the Agriculture and Agribusiness sector the country has seen success in recent years and the sector has good potential to develop further:
- Pineapples – The ‘Antigua Black Pineapple’ which grows in dark, loamy soil is renowned for its sweetness. It is now recognized as an international brand and is sold in Norwegian supermarkets at a premium price.
- Poultry – Antigua & Barbuda is a net importer of poultry and there are plans to develop the sector to make Antigua & Barbuda a net exporter of poultry products.
- Sea–Island Cotton – The production of sea-island cotton is being perfected in Antigua & Barbuda. It commands high export prices and is revered among Japanese connoisseurs for its quality. With financial support from the Government and the Antigua & Barbuda Development Bank, 30 acres are currently in the 3rd year of cultivation. Participating farmers sell their crop to a co-op for further processing into lint and yarn. Yield and harvesting technology is being improved and weavers are now in training on modern jacquard looms with finished goods being sold to retail outlets in the Caribbean and further afield.
- The ‘National Backyard Gardening Programme’ is an initiative aimed at getting the population to produce 4m pounds of food annually in peoples’ own backyards. This program with 2,500 families has seen a rise in the production of tomato, sweet pepper, okra, lettuce and herbs such as rosemary and thyme.
The country’s agricultural production is focused mainly on the domestic market. With a large area of underutilized land, a Government priority is to encourage self-sufficiency in order to curtail the need to import food which accounts for about one quarter of all imports.
The main business opportunities arise from possibilities to replace some of these food imports and to export to other Caribbean countries which have a combined food import bill of some $5 billion. Whilst it is not viable to replace all of the processed food imports there is significant potential to replace fresh food imports.