(GIS) – The Ministry of Agriculture, along with the Republic of China (Taiwan), has embarked on a project which seeks to reduce the country’s food import bill.
The production and distribution enhancement project will focus on seven crops over a three-year period.
With an annual food import bill of $4.5 million, Saint Lucia with the help of the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) will seek to enhance agricultural intelligence information systems, analyze market demand, and assist farmers plan production cycles based on market demands.
H.E. Ambassador Douglas Chen said the biggest challenge facing Saint Lucia today is how to achieve food security and combat climate change.
“We all know that Saint Lucia spends a tremendous amount of money to import fruits and vegetables—Including lettuce, watermelon, cantaloupe and tomatoes from overseas,” Ambassador Chen said. “The import value is increasing every year. The Taiwanese government is willing to work with the Government of Saint Lucia to reverse this trend and promote local protection of seven crops, on a sustainable basis.”
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Physical Planning, Natural Resources and Co-operatives, Hon. Ezechiel Joseph said the introduction of new technologies and techniques helps Saint Lucia produce these crops more sustainably.
“Take lettuce, for example. One year we imported over $1 million worth of lettuce as if we cannot produce it in Saint Lucia,” Minister Joseph said. “We can, and I have the fullest confidence that we can with the new technologies that will be introduced to us through the Taiwanese Technical Mission from the ICDF.”
The project will focus on cabbage, lettuce, watermelon, cantaloupe, bell pepper, pineapple, and tomato crops, and will receive financial and technical support from the Republic of China (Taiwan), for a period of three years.
“Over the next three years we should see a reduction in imports of the seven crops that we have identified,” the minister said.
Coinciding with the launch of the project was the graduation ceremony for the training of farmers who will be engaged as part of the project.