PRESS RELEASE – On Thursday 6th November 2014, the Caribbean’s leading agro-processor – Baron Foods Limited and CARICOM based organization – Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), signed a three (3) year agreement towards achieving a robust and enhanced engagement in support of food production, agribusiness and rural development in St. Lucia and the wider Caribbean.
The contract was signed by the two parties during a production system sensitization workshop at Baron Foods Ltd.’s headquarters, located in Vieux Fort, St. Lucia. This sensitization workshop also led to the formation of a St. Lucia hot pepper cluster group.
This special arrangement was as a result of months of vigorous, all around planning and allocating of resources between Baron Foods and CARDI on the topic of revitalizing the regional hot pepper industry and others alike. For the past week, a series of field visits, demos, training and workshops with St. Lucian farmers have been hosted by CARDI and Baron Foods as a kick start this project.
With this contract, Baron Foods has declared its commitment towards securing its supply chain and providing a market avenue for its farmers, by establishing a minimum quota of 5,000 lbs of hot peppers per week. It further goes that this quota must only increase, whereby Baron Foods will then seek to export the surplus pepper to be consumed by its plants in other Caribbean islands.
Meanwhile, CARDI has agreed to train farmers on how to increase their productivity levels by using various best management practices and to also provide farmers with high quality pepper seeds such as Moruga Red, Scotch Bonnet, and West Indies Red. The agreement in general also aims to build the farmers’ morale and efficiency.
Managing Director and CEO of Baron Foods Ltd., Mr. Ronald Ramjattan OBE said,“With increased demand for value added agri-products, it is imperative that agro-processors, like Baron Foods, receive a consistent, year round supply of quality fresh produce to sustain their operation. It is a win-win situation as these direct backward linkages to the Agricultural sector serve as ideal paths towards creating employment and local farmers gaining stable returns”.
The project also employs regional organization – Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) as well as the Ministry of Agriculture on a third party basis. The two (2) organizations have assisted in covering administrative costs and assigning an extension officer respectively, all in an effort to further augment the project.