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Greenhouse parks on horizon


As part of a wide range of activities aimed at increased private sector involvement in the agricultural sector, the Windward Island Farmers Association (WINFA) was placed under the spotlight on Thursday, January 14, 2016 as they hosted, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Rural Transformation, a national consultation for the development of a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model,{{more}} which will be used in the management of three proposed greenhouse parks in Montreal, Orange Hill and Richmond.

The workshop created a forum for presentations and a stakeholder dialogue on the Public-Private Partnership Model for greenhouse parks and to seek buy-in from stakeholders, as well as potential collaborators and beneficiaries.

According to the chief agricultural officer Ashley Cain, “if we (stakeholders involved in establishment of the PPP) can craft a model for the management of the greenhouse parks, in SVG, it would prove beneficial to our country with particular interest in the area concerning health and wellness.”

During discussions held at the consultation, the underlying purposes of these greenhouse parks are to increase vegetable production, competitiveness, income, and food security. This point was reinforced by Philbert Gould, the Fruits and Vegetables component leader under the Banana Accompanying Measures programme (BAM). WINFA coordinator and Marketing Component leader of BAM, Kozel Peters-Fraser, called for the process to remain inclusive and to ensure that the model for management of the parks meets the goal of poverty alleviation and benefits the broader farming and rural communities.

The idea to establish these greenhouse parks is a collaborative effort undertaken by the Ministry of Agriculture and the European Union (EU); funding for this venture has been accounted for in the BAM budget, therefore it will be financed by the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The session was held in the Fisheries conference room and consisted of invited guests/interested parties from varying backgrounds with each standing to benefit from this venture; attendees included representatives from farmers groups, policy makers, financial institutions, credit unions and Ministry of Agriculture representatives.

The main outcomes of the workshop were:

1. To sharpen and conclude on the ownership and management mechanisms for the Green house parks

2. To widen and deepen the engagement process at the national and community levels to ensure transparency and clarity in the selection process and to make clear the financial and economic benefits for potential investors

3. A public sensitization programme aimed at further stimulating interest and support among policy makers, producers, consumers, and investors.

Concretely, the workshop agreed to circulate a modified version of the business model in the next two weeks and subsequently, to solicit the support of the BAM project in presenting the business plan and other pertinent information to individuals and organizations interested in becoming shareholders of the greenhouse parks.