NEWLY appointed Minister for Economic Development, Guy Joseph, believes the commencement of work on a Diagnostic Facility for St. Lucia marks “a very special point in where we want to go as a country.”
Commenting on the importance of the Diagnostic Facility, Minister Joseph said: “Agriculture is taking a different trend now and we cannot do things the way we used to anymore. I believe, this Facility is going to be very important in moving forward and reshaping what we can produce in the agricultural sector. I think this facility will help us reshape the agricultural sector, and set it on the right path to sustainable growth and development. The services which will be provided in this facility, should take Agriculture in St. Lucia to the next level.”
The Minister called for strict adherence to testing regimes, fairness and transparency in the work of the Diagnostic Facility when it is operationalized. He says this is critical to the integrity of the facility, but more importantly, the safety of plant and animal products for our domestic and overseas consumers.
Minister Joseph spoke of his keen interest in agriculture, given that the constituency he represents (Castries South East) comprises communities that are high producers of agricultural commodities such as bananas, root crops, poultry, beef and pork. The Minister believes that agriculture is critical to the overall economic development of St. Lucia.
He says while we have moved from an agriculture to a service based economy, rural communities in St. Lucia continue to depend heavily on agriculture for their sustenance and livelihood. According to the Minister, “if we can get more people engaged in agriculture, we can reduce the level of unemployment considerably.”
The Economic Development Minister complimented the staff of the Ministry of Agriculture and the NAO for achieving 100 percent commitment of resources under the ATP-BAM Programme. St. Lucia’s allocation under the ATP-BAM was 10.3 million Euros. However, the Eastern Caribbean equivalent has reduced, due to recent declines in the value of the Euro.
St. Lucia is the only one of three Eastern Caribbean Islands which are beneficiaries of ATP-BAM to achieve this milestone. Dominica and St. Vincent are the other islands with ATP-BAM Programmes.
Minister Joseph says he is encouraged by the increased efficiencies and institutional capacity developed within the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Authorizing Office. He says this augurs well for project implementation in the future.
The Office of the National Authorizing Officer is within the Ministry of Economic Development, Housing, Urban Renewal, Transport and Civil Aviation.
(Banana Accompanying Measures – BAM – is funded by the European Union (EU) under the Agricultural Transformation Programme – ATP. BAM is intended to support adaptation processes to mitigate against further erosion of the preferential margins for ACP banana producers and to help ACP countries adjust to the new trade realities. Caribbean countries benefitting from the BAM Programme are Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Suriname.)