The Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) has committed to train 25 Saint Lucian women in sustainable mushroom production.
The project, “Where Women Bloom: Supporting sustainable livelihoods for women through capacity building and inclusivity in the mushroom industry”, is a collaboration among the Taiwanese Embassy in Saint Lucia, Taiwan Technical Mission (TTM) in Saint Lucia, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), and the local mushroom collective.
The women, who are between 18 and 65 years old, will be selected from rural communities across Saint Lucia by the project team and partners from the Taiwan Technical Mission through an application process. Applicants will need to provide a brief video testimonial and a brief bio via an application form. This will be followed by site visits to confirm the selected participants and evaluate the specific set-up requirements for a small, scalable mushroom farm.
Training will focus on scaling up the mushroom units and guiding participants through selection of suitable species for production based on location and environment, good agricultural practices, quality management, packaging, marketing, and specifying a business roadmap for sustainable growth.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the project was signed by Mr. Daniel Yi-Long Lee, Head of the Taiwan Technical Mission in Saint Lucia and Mr. Gregg C.E. Rawlins, Representative for the ECS, IICA, on Thursday, November 17, 2022, in the Conference Room of the Ministry of Agriculture, Waterfront, in Castries. The signing ceremony was witnessed by officials from the Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in Saint Lucia, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food Security and Rural Development.
His Excellency Peter Chia-yen Chen, Taiwan’s Ambassador to Saint Lucia, said the MoU signing was significant, as it seeks to empower women to become entrepreneurs. He also said the initiative aims to ensure that food security remains at the forefront.
“I want to wish all the participants who will benefit from this training the best of success as they embark on a journey of empowerment and education,” Ambassador Chen stated. “You are important players in the food security of Saint Lucia, and I personally cannot wait to sample some mushrooms from your farms in the future.”
Ambassador Chen continued by saying that, “The Enhancing the Efficiency of Production — Distribution Supply Chain in Fruit and Vegetable Sector in Saint Lucia (Second Term)’, cooperated by Taiwan and the Ministry of Agriculture, will ensure that food security in Saint Lucia remains a top priority. Under the cooperation with IICA, we believe this goal will be achieved successfully.”
In his remarks, Hon. Alfred Prospere, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Food Security and Rural Development, thanked Taiwan and IICA for their unwavering support for Saint Lucia’s agricultural sector.
“(This is) an opportunity for me to say a big ‘thank-you’ to the Taiwanese and IICA for the support they have been giving this Ministry over the years,” he said. “I know they will continue to provide that support to us because at this time this Ministry needs every support we can get – whether it’s financial or capacity building – to be able to get this Ministry to meet its objectives with regard to food security.”
For his part, Mr. Gregg Rawlins, Representative for the ECS, IICA, said the MoU signing signaled a continuation of a technical cooperation signed between IICA and TaiwanICDF over three years ago to assist the Region.
“We see this as a progressive step in strengthening the relations between IICA and the Taiwanese Technical Mission and TaiwanICDF, whom we recognize as a very important partner in the agricultural sector, not just here in Saint Lucia, but also in other countries where we cooperate in the Region – St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. In fact, the signing of this MoU actually builds upon the signing of a general technical cooperation agreement that was signed between IICA and TaiwanICDF in August 2019.”
He added: “The partnership of the Taiwan Technical Mission in supporting sustainable livelihoods through a focus on producing real impact with women, their capacity building, and promoting inclusivity in market participation in industry representation, is welcomed by IICA.”
Mushrooms are a high value agricultural product which is also nutrient-dense and capable of being produced under very low-cost systems, including at home. Therefore, even a small commercial unit producing 100 pounds of mushroom with a selling price of EC$25.00 per pound is highly lucrative in comparison to other fresh products. This makes mushroom an ideal candidate for greater participation of women in support of economic empowerment, food and nutrition security, and sustainable livelihood development.