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Tissue culture lab at Orange Hill among best in CARICOM – Caesar

Tissue culture lab at Orange Hill among best in CARICOM – Caesar

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The Ministry of Agriculture is working towards making its tissue culture laboratory at Orange Hill an independent operation which will market its products to the wider Caribbean.

At a ceremony last Friday, during which 1,000 tissue culture dasheen and tannia plantlets were donated to the government and people of Dominica, Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar said the tissue culture lab{{more}} is one of the best in CARICOM.

“In St Vincent and the Grenadines, we have a prized tissue culture propagation station; it is one of the best in CARICOM and it is not a farfetched vision for us to fully commercialize the tissue culture lab in Orange Hill,” the minister said.

Caesar explained that most of the produce made at the lab is being used in the ministry’s ‘operation plant back’, which is an initiative to replace all plants that were destroyed by natural disasters in previous years.

“This tissue culture lab is the driving force in ‘operation plant back,’ as we seek to establish more acreages in the aftermath of not only Hurricane Thomas, but also recoveries of Black Sigatoka.”

The minister also disclosed that at present, the Ministry of Agriculture is putting together a financial plan to assess the different modalities of operation of the laboratory.

He indicated that one such modality would be to have the lab become an independent corporation and that the lab would be seeking markets in the subregion and in the wider CARICOM area.

Caesar said the laboratory had had many positive effects since its inception, including the creation of jobs for many of the youth in the surrounding areas.

“From Biabou to Fancy, there are young persons who are currently employed here…there are some 60 plus persons who are working at the lab currently.”

The minister also revealed that in order to accommodate the growing number of present and prospective employees,”it is the vision of the planning unit in the Ministry of Agriculture that a particular modality can be set up for us to run probably a day and night operation here.”

He also indicated that many of the new employees are being trained at the agricultural training centre, so that they can have working knowledge once they get on the job site.

Caesar also said it is the Ministry’s plan to teach the younger employees about enterprises and becoming entrepreneurs in their communities.

“Entrepreneurship and enterprise is key to economic growth…there are many young persons who are working here…who we are going to encourage to set up small business in their villages, as we turn the interest and the objective of the tissue culture lab to exporting on a large scale, we want, as we train the young persons, for them to take that knowledge into their villages.”

Caesar said a United Kingdom company had expressed an interest in the production and cultivation of coffee on a medium to large scale here in St Vincent.

“…we are in the process of fine tuning a memorandum of understanding between the Shenton Group…but we have already engaged IICA, the government and people of Brazil and Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago to assist us with the tissue culture material,” he outlined.

The 1,000 plantlets were handed over to Dr Gregory Robin, CARDI representative to St Vincent and the Grenadines and a native of Dominica.(CM)

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