(PRESS RELEASE) – Saint Lucia’s export potential in the fisheries sector is to be significantly stepped up, as US-based Toro Trading and Imports company prepares to further build capacity among local fishers.
Toro Trading and Imports’ economic footprint on Saint Lucia dates back to September 2014, when the firm became the first company to import lobsters into the United States from Saint Lucia. That year, the company purchased over 15,000 pounds of lobster at a cost of approximately ECD$200,000 exclusively from Saint Lucian fishers.
As a follow up to this, Managing Partner Emory Dabney says plans are well underway to launch a major lobster-catch initiative on Saint Lucia, designed to encourage increased production of lobster exports.
According to Dabney, already Toro Trading and Imports has begun shipping raw materials to help build hundreds of environmentally-friendly lobster traps, to be eventually distributed, at no cost to local fishers.
“The local lobster fishery is still developing and as such its ability to satisfy the huge demand in the US is limited. This latest lobster initiative, which is being done at significant cost, will be mutually beneficial to both parties in that it will put local fisheries in a much better position to increase their catch, while making it possible for the company to purchase from them for subsequent export to the US,” notes Dabney.
For the next lobster season opening August 2, 2019, the company’s target is to export 50,000 pounds of lobster from Saint Lucia. Dabney says, “We continue to work with the local fisher folk and governmental authorities to make this a reality.”
In 2014 Toro Trading and Imports also became the first company to import large scale avocados into the United states market from the Caribbean. With no one avocado farmer being able to support demand, the company achieved its goal by hiring local Saint Lucian truck owners who spent close to a week driving around the island buying avocados from small farms and locals who had avocados growing in their backyards. That week close to 30,000 pounds of avocados were purchased for export.
Toro Trading is an importer that imports high demand low supply sea food and produce unique to the Caribbean and South America. Its success is forged by developing strong relationships with the fishers and farmers who sit at the foundation of the food industry.
Currently Toro Trading and Imports also has a plantain initiative where it purchases plantain tree seedlings and fertilizers for local residents with land. Once these plantains mature, the company buys the produce for export.
Dabney says all of these efforts dovetail seamlessly with the company’s mission, which is to give fishers and farmers a market to sell to, assist them in building strong supply chains, and teaching them the rigorous quality control standards needed to sell in foreign markets.