(PRESS RELEASE VIA SNO) – Reducing Saint Lucia’s agricultural importation bill is a signature priority of our nation.
The Global Environment Fund (GEF) Small Grants Project has, through the award of a pilot project, been assisting the Saint Lucia Floral Co-operative Society to transform the local floral industry by integrating less toxic inputs into the production process.
Over thirty farmers have been trained and registered as practitioners of Good Agricultural Practices, using green/organic methods. These farmers were trained in Natural Farming. Some of the major benefits of this agricultural approach is the reduction in the cost of inputs, increasing the quality and value of the products, and most importantly, not exposing the farmers and the environment to toxic chemicals.
Whereas Saint Lucia’s agricultural importation bill is primarily made up of food products, a reduction in the level of importation of cut- flowers and plants can provide and improve the livelihood of farmers. The Floral Co-operative encourages its members to produce anthuriums, ginger lilies, heliconias, orchids and foliage for local consumption and export.
However in an endeavor to be competitive, the Floral Co-operative with the assistance of the Ministry of Agriculture urged flower producers to make their own plant nutrients and treatments for use on their farms. For this many plants and waste from their farms and homes are made into the nutrients and treatments.
At this time specific attention is being given to increase the number of farmers who grow orchids commercially, but using green/organic methods. To that end, over the next few months, the thirty farmers will be testing the non-synthetic plant inputs to grow eight varieties of dendrobium orchid plants. Some of the biologically derived plant inputs are from the banana pseudo stem, ripe mangoes, neem leaves, moringa leaves, earth worm tea, etc. ebananas, etc.
The effects of these on the growth of the flowering dendrobium orchid plants will be monitored and then assessed when the plants are blooming.
The St. Lucia Floral Co-operative Society was established in 1999 and now has a membership of over 70. The majority of the recently trained farmers are women and some are new to the production of Dendrobium orchids.
Also taking part in the training were Agricultural teachers and students from the Belle Vue Combined and the Grand Riviere Secondary Schools. As a result of these training sessions which began last October, the local pool of orchid growers has been increased. People interested in membership can contact 721 7094, 486 3015.