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Interview: CCA achieves expertise in managing dispersed markets in the Caribbeanqrcode

Aug. 17, 2017

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Aug. 17, 2017

Caribbean Chemicals and Agencies Ltd. (CCA)
was founded in 1966 and is a family-run company, headquartered on the island of Trinidad in the Caribbean. 
“We see ourselves as the solution for distribution in the overall combined small market of the Caribbean (valued at approx. US$350 million), which is difficult to manage due to the many small islands and large geographic area,” Joe Pires Jr, managing director of CCA, son of the founder Joe Pires Sr., told AgroPages in an exclusive interview.
Q: What is the main business section of the Caribbean Chemicals & Agencies Ltd? What products and services do you offer to the market? What regions does your company serve?

Joe Pires Jr
Managing Director of CCA
Caribbean Chemicals and Agencies Ltd is a family run company headquartered on the island of Trinidad. With offices and a formulating plant in Jamaica, offices in Guyana and Suriname on the South American continent, CCA is the largest agricultural inputs supplier in the English speaking Caribbean. The sons of the founder Joe Pires Sr., Joe Pires Jr currently heads up the Trinidad, Jamaica and Suriname offices and Victor Pires heads up the offices in Guyana. CCA now serves the farmers of the entire Caribbean including Cuba, Cayman Islands, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, The Bahamas and other small islands like St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Vincent etc. (except the US affiliated Puerto Rico and the French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe). CCA began exporting to Haiti in late 2017 and is scheduled to open its offices in the Dominican Republic by early 2018.
Cuba and the Dominican Republic (DR) accounts for more than 50% of the Caribbean market, therefore CCA provides a unique service to the Caribbean. With over 200 staff members and over 45 qualified agronomists, CCA provides product development for new products, free advice to farmers and has built its reputation on educating farmers with the newest technology provided by their worldwide partners.
CCA represents such brands as BASF, Bayer, Omex, Miller, Jacto, Known You Seeds and thru its formulating plant in Jamaica supplies generics like glyphosate , paraquat, 2-4,D and will this year launch new formulations into the Caribbean market.
Q: Could you please introduce to us the main crop structure in the Caribbean region, and the market situation of major agricultural inputs (pesticides, fertilizers, seeds, agricultural machinery, etc.)?
The English speaking Caribbean is made up of the following primary markets for 2017 (approximately).
Planting area of main crops cultivated in the Caribbean (000 ha)
  Sugar Rice Citrus Banana Papaya Tobacco Coffee Root crops Vegetables
Barbados 15                
Cuba 100 12 20 20 8 27 50 40 5
Dominica       2.5          
Dominican Republic 75 100 18   5 30 110 40 6
Guyana 100 125             3
Jamaica 70   6 1.3 3   8 8 4
Other Islands                  5 4
St. Lucia       4          
St. Vincent       3          
Suriname   80 3 50         3
Trinidad   5 5   1.5   5 5 3

CCA distributes products thru a hub and spoke system utilizing its Jamaica offices to distribute to all markets, west of Puerto Rico and Trinidad to distribute products south of Puerto Rico. Most of the English speaking islands belong to a trade agreement called CARICOM which allows duty free access for products manufactured by companies in member countries and in many cases all agricultural inputs are duty free. CCA imports products into its warehouses and uses local inter island ferries to get products to each market. So a retailer in a small island like Grenada or Cayman Island for example, which cannot handle the minimum order from today’s major manufacturers, can order 3 cases of insecticide, 5 cases of herbicides, 10 bags of fertilizer, 25 packs of various seeds, 20 rolls of irrigation tubing and 5 spray cans and ship this on one of the weekly schooners that leave Jamaica and Trinidad.
In the very small islands, CCA has a network of dealers that it deals with directly and provides support with a team of agronomists who regularly visit each island and provides field visits, technical training for extension staff and store owners / workers and is constantly doing product trials and developing new products to lower the farmers costs…if farmers don’t make money …we don’t.

"Caribbean Chemicals and Agencies Limited has provided our staff with the great technical support. Their training programmes has helped us to expand our knowledge and better serve our customers."
- Shop Owner of S&S AGRI Centre: Sookram Singh
In the larger markets where CCA has offices, CCA has a fleet of vehicles and deliver to retailers strategically located throughout the markets. Each Island is different, for example:
Trinidad: 4 main importers of inputs; 5 minor; 110 retailers
Guyana: 2 main importers; 4 minor; 170 retailers (2 company owned)
Jamaica: 5 main importers; 4 minor; 400 retailers
Suriname: 2 main importers; 12 minor; 95 retailers
Barbados: 2 main importers, 4 minor; 35 retailers
St. Lucia: 1 main importer; 3 minor; 8 retailers
Dominica Republic: 7 Multinational Offices present; 8 main importers; 15 minor; 350 retailers
Cuba: 3 Multinational Offices present; 1 main importer; 0 minor; no retailers
Q: What are the changes in the demand for agrochemical products in this region over the past few years? What might be the future needs and opportunities for new products and technologies? 
With the mergers that have occurred over the years the and the new MEGA mergers now occurring, International companies focus on the small Caribbean market has not been a priority except for the DR and Cuba. Combined, the Caribbean is an attractive market when all inputs like fertilizers, seeds, irrigation, sprayers are added to pesticide sales. The market has shifted like other markets from selling mostly proprietary products (70% vs. 30% in the 90’s) to approximately 60% generics in today’s market and in some islands this may be a bit higher.  With the humidity levels of the Caribbean, two rivers exiting into the Caribbean Sea from the Amazon, the winds of Africa hitting the Caribbean first (some islands suffer from locust damage every few years based on the jet stream from Africa) the entire Caribbean Region is an area that suffers from major pest and disease outbreaks.
Most farms are less than 1 hectare which creates numerous problems for international companies.
1) Cost of the new chemicals may be beyond a regular farmers needs 
2) Most farmers require smaller packaging than the normal 1 liter or 5 liter size that most international companies produce 
3) Most islands cannot take the minimum order from an international supplier 
4) Travelling between islands and from international destinations is difficult and prohibitive 
5) Handling credit for multiple small accounts is bothersome.
CCA has concentrated being the solution for these issues and will by 2018 be in every major Caribbean Island to distribute ag inputs. With the plant in Jamaica being able to repack and offering sizes like 50ml, 100ml, 250ml and 500ml, most farmers’ needs are satisfied. CCA is the solution for the relatively small market of the Caribbean.
The Jamaica formulation plant has preferred access to Cuba based on the trade agreements between Jamaica and Cuba and a line of credit and has been exporting to Cuba for over 10 years.
Q: Do you have plans to introduce new products in the future? If so, what kind of products would that be? 
Ag Chem Plant Limited, the formulating plant owned by CCA in Jamaica is in the final stages of registering for sale formulations of imidacloprid, fipronil and a few cypermethrin formulas. We expect this to be registered before the end of 2017. It recently received registration for new formulas for paraquat and glyphosate which was recently launched on the Jamaica market and will be soon sold in the other Caribbean markets. Ag Chem Plant will enter 1-2 new markets every year for the next few years. 
Source: AgroNews

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