The Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with Taiwan Embassy in Saint Lucia on Friday, June 24, 2022, hosted their first-ever jointly-collaborated Mango Festival.
The Mango Festival was held in Constitution Park, in Castries, and attracted hundreds of patrons who got to sample a wide variety of products made from local and Taiwanese mangoes. The Festival, which was organized over a seven-week period, followed a successful hosting of the Banana Festival in May, and was financed by Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan).
Taiwan’s Ambassador to Saint Lucia, H.E. Peter Chia-yen Chen, accompanied Hon. Ernest Hilaire, Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism, 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, and Hon. Guibion Ferdinand, Parliamentary Secretary of Ministry of Toursim, Investment, Creative Industries, Culture and Information for the official opening ceremony of the Festival held in the Castries City Hall on Friday morning.
Also present at the opening ceremony were Barrymore Felicien, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture; and Greg Rawlins, IICA Representative to the ECS, among other special guests.
Ambassador Chen noted that more people need to capitalize on the benefits that mangoes offer, thereby eliminating the annual exorbitant wastage of the popular fruit. As is the case in Saint Lucia, he said Taiwan also boasts a wide variety of mangoes, adding that the fruit is used to produce many items in Taiwan.
“I do hope that this Mango Festival changes the way that people view mangoes,” Ambassador Chen said. “With climate change affecting the world at a fast-growing pace, we must learn to appreciate the value of what nature gives us, including the fruits. We must learn to appreciate the value of turning wastage into creative business ideas. Through this festival, the hope is that mangoes – and other local fruits – can be used more creatively and appreciated more.”
Hon. Alfred Prospere, Minister for Agriculture, said it is incumbent to preserve our foods, especially those prone to surpluses. He believes that with climate change affecting the world’s food supply chain, people need to be more creative with the foods they do have. He encouraged citizens to purchase copies of the Mango Recipe book that was also a collaboration between the Taiwan Technical Mission and the Ministry of Agriculture.
“By so doing, we can better meet year-round demand and greater consistency, reduce our reliance on imports, better control market price, and choose healthier eating options,” Hon. Prospere said. “The Ministry of Agriculture commits to providing support services aimed at enhancing food security through the continuation of Farmer’s Markets, provision of seedlings, subsidized agricultural inputs, product market development, support from our Marketing Department and Research Unit, support to cocoa farmers, youth engagement in mushroom production, fuel rebate for our fishermen, processing of agricultural concessions, and further capacity building and training in good agricultural practices.”
Meanwhile, Hon. Ernest Hilaire, who spoke on behalf of Prime Minister Hon. Philip J. Pierre, said that given Saint Lucia’s hefty food import bill, the consumption of locally-grown produced should be encouraged. He stated that, according to statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture, Saint Lucia can either grow or find suitable substitutes for the foods that are imported. Hon. Hilaire also indicated that initiatives such as the Mango Festival can feed perfectly into the community tourism programme Government is now promoting.
“The community tourism initiative s about offering authentic Saint Lucian experiences to our visitors,” he said. “It’s about moving the experience from a resort and hotel base to a community- based experience. Think about it, visualize it: visitors coming to the community and going into homes that are involved in small-scale agro-processing.”
During the opening ceremony, three students from the Hospitality class of the Upskilling Academy Jennès Programme were presented with their prizes won at the Mango Culinary Competition held at Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC) on Monday, June 20. They are Maggie Mitchell (Best Dessert), Vanancia Dornelly (Best Beverage), and Cholie Emmanuel (Best Appetizer/Main Course).
The one-day Mango Festival featured various booths in Constitution Park displaying a myriad of products made from mangoes, including foods and jewelry. Patrons were treated to samples and also got the chance to purchase mango tress and the Mango Recipe book.