(GIS) – Prime Minister Hon. Allen Chastanet has called on young people to explore opportunities in the agriculture sector, especially in the production of cocoa, honey and livestock. This, as government continues to place emphasis on incentives within the sector.
In his 2020 New Year address, Prime Minister Chastanet said the sector is improving—a trend that will continue in 2020.
“It is no secret that there was a mass exodus of farmers from the agriculture sector. Thankfully with support and incentives we are seeing a turnaround,” he said. “In 2016, banana production increased despite the challenges from natural disasters. We are actively working on new markets and discussions remain underway with Winfresh to strengthen the company’s operations and expand its export base.
“Under the Food Import Substitution Programme, the Ministry of Agriculture is working closely with farmers to decrease food import bills by increasing our output of seven crops: cabbage, lettuce, watermelon, cantaloupe, bell pepper, pineapple and tomato crops. The intention is to be fully self-sufficient in those crops.”
The prime minister also touted his administration’s achievements.
“One of the biggest success stories has been in the manufacturing sector. In the last three and a half years, government has targeted this sector for employment and investment generation. Caribbean Quality Meats Ltd., a poultry processing plant is soon to begin operations in Dennery. Invest Saint Lucia has also partnered with a Jamaican company, “Itel-B-P-O Smart Solutions” in developing a 20,000 sq. ft. factory shell set to be operational by April at the Hewanorra Free Zone, which will create even more employment in the south. A US$30 million expansion is currently underway at Saint Lucia Distillers Limited. Similar expansion works are planned at the Windward and Leeward Brewery. Attention is also being paid to the restoration of the coconut factory in Soufriere.”
With a focus on regional market expansion, Export Saint Lucia is working to improve the agro-processing sector. Two agro-processing plants are now in operation at Anse Ger in Micoud and Fond Assau in Babonneau.