Fruit and Vegetable production in Saint Lucia’s is in for a boost following a five-year agreement between Taiwan and the government of Saint Lucia, in which Taiwan will be assisting the island in “Enhancing the Efficiency of the Production-Distribution Supply Chain.”
The agreement, announced by the Taiwan Embassy, follows an earlier three-year agreement that ended in November 2021, aimed at “reducing Saint Lucia’s food import bill by 30% .”
Taiwan’s Technical Mission in Agriculture has been pursuing a Seven-Crops project aimed at encouraging import substitution through increased local production of foods.
According to the government press release, “Saint Lucia’s agricultural sector will improve exponentially over the next five years,” thanks to the signing of a major agreement between the Governments of Saint Lucia and Taiwan on Friday, January 7, 2022.
During a brief ceremony held at the Conference Room of the Ministry of Agriculture, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Food Security, and Rural Development Alfred Prospere and Taiwan’s Ambassador to Saint Lucia Peter Chen signed the five-year agreement, effective January 1, 2022.
The release did not indicate to what extent the stated objective of the previous three-year agreement was realized, but indicated that “the programme sees Taiwan leveraging agricultural technology to strengthen Saint Lucia’s agricultural production, improve farmers’ income and build-up the resilience of the agricultural sector to mitigate the effects of Climate Change.”
Ambassador Chen said, “As our world continues to confront worsening climate emergencies – such as severe storms, hurricanes and extreme weather – food security has come under serious threat.”
He promised that the Taiwan Technical Mission “will continue to provide assistance, including promoting diversified production, establish a high efficiency production model, and strengthen the sales and marketing mechanism for local agricultural products.”
Minister Prospere thanked Taiwan for funding the project, noting that the assistance should alleviate the plight of local farmers, ensure food security and promote diversification.
He cautioned, “ the direction of the banana industry is taking… we are not sure if the banana industry will remain with us for too long, especially the UK market.”
As a result, he stated, “There’s an urgent need for us, as a Ministry, to look at a strategy to encourage more of the banana farmers to get into diversification.”
Minister Prospere, in an optimistic mood, said, “I’m confident that this five-year period of the project will really help to incentivize the farming sector in Saint Lucia and I’m looking forward to seeing this project engage as many farmers as possible.”
He went on to encourage the youth to get into the agricultural sector.
Meanwhile, Barrymore Felicien, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food Security and Rural Development, said it’s been almost two decades since the first agricultural technical cooperation agreement between the Governments of Saint Lucia and Taiwan was established.
Fortunately, he noted, COVID-19 resulted in more people getting involved the agriculture, adding that “this revived prominence in agriculture has led to the ministry wanting to do more under the Seven-Crops Project.