PM to meet with Winfresh following overseas trip

By SNO Staff

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Prime Minister Allen Chastanet (left) and Agriculture Minister Ezechiel Joseph (right) addressing a press conference late Monday afternoon.

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet (left) and Agriculture Minister Ezechiel Joseph (right) addressing a press conference late Monday afternoon.

As the government looks to expand the local agriculture sector, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and Agriculture Minister Ezechiel Joseph have been searching for marketing opportunities for Saint Lucia.

During a three-country trip between August 6 to 14, 2016, both men met with a French company in Morocco to discuss opening up new markets for local farmers, particularly those in the banana sector.

Joseph said the visit was a fruitful one, stating that it was realised during discussions with the company, that there are a lot of opportunities for banana farmers and agriculture in Saint Lucia.

“It’s an opportunity that we welcome because as a government, we believe there is need to explore opportunities for our farmers as it pertains to market,” he told a media conference on Monday.

Joseph said  a meeting is planned with Winfresh for today (Aug.16) to get their commitment towards working with the French company that has shown a keen interest in marketing Saint Lucia’s agriculture products.

“Winfresh is our entity and we will not engage in any activity that will compete with Winfresh…Instead we see it as an additional opportunity for the company,” the agriculture minister asserted.

Meanwhile, the prime minister said that the government is also looking to enhance Winfresh by creating a new market opportunity in Martinique and Guadeloupe and is looking at the possibility of sponsoring an advertising campaign in the United Kingdom market with a brand of local bananas.

However, Chastanet said these are discussions he and Joseph will have with the Winfresh team, as they look for more opportunities aimed specifically towards revitalizing the banana sector.

“I want to discourage farmers from going on their own and growing more bananas because we have to make sure that the market is there to process it,” he added.

On the other hand, Joseph said the government has realised that the level of banana production is not allowing for farmers to be competitive.

“When we talk about 5,000 tonnes per acre per year compared to our competitors doing 15-25,000 tonnes per acre per year. You would appreciate the type of challenge we have with that crop,” he said.

The agriculture minister said the new administration is committed to the sector and they are now developing a programme that will give further support to farmers to get them back into production.

“We have seen that there are a number of crops that can be grown locally and we will support a new technology to do that. Why not capitalize on the opportunity?,” he questioned.

Joseph said based on Saint Lucia’s long outstanding commitment with Morocco, that country has given a commitment to send another shipment of fertilizers and also plans to look into analyzing the nutritional content of local soil. They have also given a commitment to assist with the short term crops and other technical areas.

(6)(1)
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13 comments

  1. I applaud the efforts with regards to rejuvenating our banana industry by the present Government.

    Always said Agriculture should be given a lot more attention, give it same budget as we do for Tourism.

    Two points from me are 1. Bananas should not be the only crop to explore. There are loads of companies doing research into miracle or power fruit and veg and they are converting their findings into end products. example Moringa, Sour Sop, Breadfruit and the list goes on. Not to mention Cannabis for export HUGE expanding market right on our door step (US and Canada). Hemp, which has no THC another power which can be processed into SEVERAL by-products.

    2. Stop spending the little tax payers money on these First Class (assumption) flight globe trotting. We're in 2016 with modern technology, use Skype to set up conference calls. It doesn't take no credibility out of the agenda.

    (1)(1)
  2. chastanet needs to stop all the traveling, this is frustrating he needs to get things down. Stop the darn traveling, he likes plane too much.

    (6)(10)
    • What a dumb statement to make. How much travelling has he done in just two and a half months in office. Do you believe that development will come to Saint Lucia by him just sitting on his rear end as the last administration did. Get a fife.

      (1)(1)
    • What u think he's doing it for pleasure? Choopz seriously educate urself before making foolish comments

      (1)(1)
  3. some people expect things to happen instantly without any patience or understanding. the govt just met with a possible market for the farmers and wants to make sure that is what is needed and accepted. the slp has written off the farmers for years and now they have a govt that wants to help. give them time to fix the problem it doesn't happen overnight. Kenny did nothing for years. did you have "piss in your eyes" then? it felt more like "a foot in the ass" for the farmers

    (9)(7)
  4. How the hell could there have been a market when they were not in power? They now have to work on it and I hope they find not only one market but competitive markets for banana farmers in St Lucia. That used our main export in St Lucia and with no leadership in the past banana farmers have suffered.

    They do the work for nothing and no income. Do people work for nothing? I don't think so.

    UWP start the work please and no wasting time.

    (8)(4)
    • They did say, while in opposition, that they were in talks with people or organizations in Martinique where, they said, a market was available for our bananas. And don't get your draws up in a bunch!

      (4)(0)
  5. WOW!!!! These POLITIANS keep blowing my mind day in and day out. Is it true that we are electing the dumbest of the lot to run our country??? Here we are looking for markets for our agricultural produce but 80% of the foods consumed in St Lucia, be it locally or hotel industry, ARE IMPORTED. Imagine how rich a country we would be if we would supply 100% of the food we consume.

    I would like to tell the Prime Minister and Mr. Joseph that the Green Gold era is over. We can not even meet our quota for England but we looking for new markets. The St Lucian farmers have moved on. They now produce Tomatoes, Pineapple, Water melons, Pumpkin, Corn, Peppers, Pork, Chicken, Lamb, ETC ETC ETC.

    We Have a large market right here in the hotels. We need government to work with farmers and hoteliers to ensure that we tap into this market. We don't have to spend thousands of tax payers money to go to France to find markets.

    (12)(6)
  6. I would like someone to explain what is meant by "I want to discourage farmers from going on their own and growing more bananas because we have to make sure that the market is there to process it". I thought they (UWP) had done an assessment on the availability of "the market". They made people believe that the market was there and all we had to do is to plant bananas.

    I guess I have "piss in my eyes".

    (11)(4)
  7. We need to get farmers going as soon as possible. A bunch of farmers especially young ones have abandoned their farmers and come to town to add to the misery there.

    (7)(6)

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