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SVG to pilot intra-regional trade project in agricultural sector

SVG to pilot intra-regional trade project in agricultural sector

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Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar is reminding farmers about the importance of producing quality food for the market place.

Caesar issued this reminder on Tuesday at a press briefing at the Ministry of Agriculture.

During this press briefing, the Minister also said that several issues will be addressed in 2017, which he knows that farmers have been waiting a long time for, including changing the unit used to measure produce during sale.

“Produce will be paid for by the pound and not by the sack, so that we get the exact weight.” Caesar said.

“…I am working toward embracing the new dispensation of purchasing. Trust and honesty is important; not only trust and honesty on the side of the purchasers to pay on time and to ensure that the pricing is quoted and covered in equity, but the farmer also must ensure that you don’t harvest before your produce is ready for the market place, just because you hearing that a good price is available now,” Caesar stated.

He said when goods spoil on the supermarket shelves, it will create backlash for purchasers which will be passed down the line.

The Minister also encouraged farmers to diversify their farming to benefit from new projects coming on stream in the agricultural sector, such as intra-regional trade, for which St Vincent has been chosen to pilot the project.

The intra-regional trade platform was introduced to reduce the OECS’s food import bill, which falls in line with the new principles and precepts of the revised Treaty of Basseterre.

“There is a market within the region for bananas and plantains, but the vagaries of climate change which is upon us is forcing us to create certain strategies of adaptation and mitigation and it would lead us down a particular path where we have to embrace other commodities as important means of production.

“The discussion has already started for the production of coffee,” he added.

And, as part of this diversification, the Minister stated that there will be also expansion in the cocoa industry and in 2017 there will also be the production of milk chocolate, in addition to the already produced dark chocolate.

Furthermore, Caesar noted that when the Argyle International Airport is opened on February 14, an important opportunity for farmers and fishermen will be created.

“We are going to see a very important window opening to our farmers to take produce directly from St Vincent and the Grenadines…to Canada and also to the United States of America in the first instance and later on to the United Kingdom,” he said.

The Minister noted that the Ministry of Agriculture has been in discussion with WINFRESH to have the Geest Line take produce to the United Kingdom (UK) and in relation to working with some of the warehouses in the UK managed by WINFRESH for the creation of a storage capacity.

Caesar also noted that during this year, the Minister of Agriculture from Prince Edward Island, Canada would visit St Vincent and the Grenadines to continue talks on embryo transfer in cattle.

He stated that the Ministry would also be receiving technical help from Cuba in the area of artificial insemination.

Caesar also noted that he was advised by a private sector company that the Lauders agro-processing facility will be utilized as a buying depot for the purchasing, preparation and payment of farmers.

“And a shipment of produce, I was advised, is expected to leave St Vincent and the Grenadines this Saturday,” he said. (CM)

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