THE Government of Saint Lucia recently signed an action plan that will signal the beginning of Phase II of the Fruit and Vegetable Demonstration and Extension Cooperation Project.
The project is a collaboration with the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan), and is designed to improve on the quality and quantity of selected fruits and vegetables for the domestic market.
Phase II of the project will focus on banana farmers who do not wish to continue supplying bananas to the European market. These farmers will cultivate crops such as watermelon, cantaloupe, papaya, pineapple, tomato, sweet pepper, cabbage, lettuce and cucumber. The project will also focus on the introduction of new crop varieties and the adaptation of improved technologies that will increase revenue while diversifying the agriculture sector.
During the first phase of the project, the following objectives were met: the establishment of three demonstration plots to showcase the cultivation of new crops and the use of improved varieties; the hosting of 19 training workshops and five farmer field school sessions to help build capacity among cultivators of new crops (which benefitted approximately 1,045 producers); the training of 11 agricultural officers in the transfer of relevant technologies; the building of nine compost houses to demonstrate the making and use of compost; and expansion in the cultivation of selected crops.
On January 12, the Taiwan Technical Mission officially handed the project over to the agriculture sector marking the completion of Phase I of the project which began in 2011 and ended in 2015.
Taiwan’s Ambassador to Saint Lucia, Raymond Mou, spoke highly of the outcome of the project saying that it had improved production, built the capacity of agricultural officers and producers and through the transfer of technology, an increase was expected in both the quality and quantity of crops.
As a result of the success of the initial phase, the Government of Taiwan has committed an additional $2 million towards the second phase, that will assist in the diversification of the local agricultural sector over a three-year period.
The Minister for Agriculture Ezechiel Joseph said the project fits within the diversification thrust of the local agriculture sector as well as government’s objectives to ensure food security on the domestic market. He added that the ministry will continue to build on these successes to strengthen the revenue base of producers.