Second Term of “Seven Crops Project” Officially Launched

The second term for a major programme to promote increased production and consumption of local produce while reducing the food import bill was officially launched on Friday, February 11, 2022.

The project — the Enhancement of the Efficiency of Production – Distribution Supply Chain in Fruit and Vegetable Sector (Second Term) — runs from January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2026, with the objective of strengthening Saint Lucia’s agricultural capacity building.

The five-year programme is being sponsored by Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund (Taiwan ICDF).

The official launch was held at the Finance Administration Centre at Pointe Seraphine. Those in attendance included H.E. Peter Chen, Taiwan’s Ambassador to Saint Lucia; Hon. Alfred Prospere, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Food Security and Rural Development; Hon. Emma Hippolyte, Minister for Commerce, Manufacturing, Business Development, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs; Hon. Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte, Minister for the Public Service, Home Affairs, Labour and Gender Affairs; and Hon. Jeremiah Norbert, Deputy Speaker of the Lower House.

Under the project, it is hoped that there will be a 25% increase in the local purchase of fruits and vegetables. The ten focal crops selected under the programme are papaya, broccoli, cucumber, soursop, pumpkin, cauliflower, eggplant, corn, dragon fruit, and sugar apple.

The programme will focus on key areas, namely (1) Diversified Production (focal crop, and irrigation techniques), (2) High-Efficiency Production Model (small machinery, and composting), and (3) Market System Strengthening (upgrade iFarm, strengthen St. Lucia Marketing Board, and agro-processing).

In 2018, the Taiwan Technical Mission and the Ministry of Agriculture launched the first phase of the project, commonly known as the “Seven Crops Project”. Crops selected included cantaloupes, honeydew, lettuce, tomatoes, pineapples, cabbages, bell peppers, and watermelon.

The aim of the initial phase of the project was to increase the production and consumption of selected crops, thereby reducing the island’s high food import bill. Under the project, there was a reduction of some of the selected crops in the first phase.

Positive spinoffs of the project to date include:

*  Remodelling of the pack-house at Odsan which is now operating under HAACP standards.

*  Establishment of contractual arrangements between local farmers and the St. Lucia Marketing Board.

*  Introduction of farmers to more climate-resilient varieties of fruits and vegetables.

*  Provision of training programmes for farmers and extension officers to build capacity.

*  Assisting farmers with subsidized agricultural inputs.

*  Organizing Farmers’ Markets across Saint Lucia to promote and increase sale of local produce.

*  Introduction of new technology, including hoop greenhouses, and establishment of weather stations to help farmers improve growing conditions, prevent diseases, and increase crop yield.

*  Development of an iFarm app for easier data collection and allowing farmers and buyers to market and sell their produce.

Other collaborators on the Seven Crops Project include the St. Lucia Marketing Board (SLMB), Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), and Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI).

Having been satisfied with the performance of the first phase of the project, and agreement for an expanded second phase was signed on January 7, 2022 between Taiwan’s Ambassador to Saint Lucia, H.E. Peter Chen, and Saint Lucia’s Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Food Security and Rural Development, Hon. Alfred Prospere.

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