Saint Lucia to Establish Relations with Guyana to Help Boost its Food Production

By Reginald Andrew
Alfred Prospere
Alfred Prospere

SAINT Lucia is moving towards establishing relations with the Republic of Guyana in an effort to boost its food production output.

This comes following a trip to Guyana by Agriculture Minister Alfred Prospere who said that he saw some of the agricultural innovation projects in the South American country.

He said  that what he saw in Guyana can contribute immensely to food security in the country. Prospere underlined the importance of a Youth Entrepreneurial Project that caters for young persons getting involved in ‘Shade House Agriculture’, preferably referred to as Green House Agriculture or Protected Agriculture.

“That form of agriculture is important, especially during the rainy season, where consistent heavy rains can reduce your yield and impact your production,” he told reporters, at a media briefing Monday.

According to Prospere, he was particularly impressed with a site he visited which had about 50 government installed greenhouses “used to produce various crops , such as celery, cabbage , sweet peppers, tomatoes and other crops.”

He said the project was linked to the University of Guyana and the Guyana School of Agriculture. “So, what happens is that those students would come in …and would use that site for their SBAs and other projects at the university. They would benefit by getting the training that is necessary and after a period of time between one to four years they would leave to establish their own agricultural business.”

The minister noted that the project holds substantial benefits for young persons, “because that type of agriculture …can attract a lot more of the younger folks…”

He said the visit also allowed the delegation to view a Hydroponic Farm that has input from the government of Israel in collaboration with the Guyanese government “to establish hydroponic systems throughout the country.”

Prospere informed that a corporate entity has also established a specific farm to train young people.

He added, “The hydroponic system can produce up to 100,000 seedlings and that includes celery, sweet peppers, lettuce and a range of other agricultural products…and that augurs well for us.

“It (presents) an opportunity for us to replicate the same in Saint Lucia and link it to the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College and other secondary schools (on island), where our students, from very early, can get involved in agriculture and see agriculture as a profession whereby they can survive and earn a livelihood from,” Prospere said.

The minister said the delegation to Guyana also visited agricultural farms, which facilitates training for farmers and young persons aspiring to become professionals in agriculture.

He said dialogue was established with the Guyana School of Agriculture, “where we saw the students actually getting involved in agro-processing, where they are using the produce that are grown on the school compound or in the vicinity of the school and using it to convert into agro-processed products.”

The visit also took the delegation to the Guyana Marketing Corporation where they viewed “the whole agro-processing sub-sector and its vibrancy, because there were more than 300 local products on display.” He said the stocks included wines, chips and other products on display.

“We think that is an opportunity for us to work together with them to secure market opportunities for our agro-processes out there and how we can collaborate, in terms of sharing the experience with them and being able to help us in terms of moving our agro-processed sub-sector,” noted Prospere.

The minister further disclosed that following negotiations with the University of Guyana, prospective scholarship opportunities were sought for two Saint Lucian students to pursue agricultural studies in that country, later this year.

“All in all, it was a wonderful trip …and Guyana is taking the right direction and putting measures in place to ensure that they achieve their 25×25 (next year) venture,” he said.

“As a follow up to that, we are already in discussion as to the identification of a site to establish that sort of agricultural innovation and we’ve been given the guarantee that we’ll get technical support and other financial resources to support us in bringing this opportunity to our young people in Saint Lucia,” asserted Prospere.

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