By Anicia Antoine, Ministry of Agriculture
(PRESS RELEASE) — The Department of Agriculture, the Saint Lucia Marketing Board, and the Taiwan Technical Mission has entered into a contractual arrangement with a core of farmers in an effort to ensure the consistent supply of produce throughout the year.
The purchase arrangement will strengthen ties between the Saint Lucia Marketing Board and local farmers, thereby enhancing the marketing strategy of produce from the farming community.
Under the agreement, the 20 chosen farmers are required to supply a variety of crops including the seven crops under the “Enhancement of the Efficiency of Production Distribution Supply Chain in the Fruits and Vegetables Sector Project,” more widely known as the Seven Crops Project.
Operations Manager of the Saint Lucia Marketing Board, Theresa Desir explains this initiative is in keeping with the mandate of the marketing board to support farmers extensively throughout the island.
“Those farmers will be issued a six-month contract in the initial stage and at the end of the contract, they will be given some incentives in the form of fertilizer and ground cover. Now to qualify for these incentives, farmers must sell an amount no less than $5000 worth of product to the marketing board. After the six-month contract comes to an end the contract will be extended; providing farmers complete and adhere to the contract. Now those farmers here will be signing the contract today.”
Ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to Saint Lucia, H.E. Peter Shen, said the purchase agreement between the Saint Lucia Marketing Board and the farmers marks a new milestone for the development of Saint Lucia’s agricultural sector.
“It is very encouraging to learn that about fifteen farmers will be signing a contract today and we are looking forward to seeing more farmers participating in the near future. Taiwan will continue to work with the Government of Saint Lucia to promote sustainable agriculture, smart agriculture, and to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.”
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Physical Planning, Natural Resources, and Cooperatives, Hon. Ezechiel Joseph encourages the purchasing farmers to honor their contractual agreements to ensure the success of the pilot project.
“Do not enter into a contractual arrangement with the Saint Lucia Marketing Board and you agree to sell whatever product at a certain price and some middle man will come to you and say “I’ll give you 25 cents more and you will sell to the middle man. That will create problems for the program because the same way the marketing is expecting you to produce and to bring in the products the same way they will enter into arrangements with supermarkets to be able to supply the products, so on both sides we have to be committed.”
The Minister for Agriculture continues to reaffirm the government’s commitment to enable a thriving agricultural economy in Saint Lucia.