Posted on

Coffee plants taking root in Congo Valley

Coffee plants taking root in Congo Valley

Share

Lennox ‘Hux’ DaBreo, a 66-year-old farmer from Park Hill, is currently planting 6,000 coffee trees on lands he owns at Congo Valley.

This is the largest number of coffee trees planted at once in the history of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) and several more farmers are due to sign contracts in the coming weeks with Shenton Farms, a local coffee company, to follow in DaBreo’s footsteps.

Shenton Farms has started distributing thousands of coffee trees to Vincentian farmers, with the purpose of developing the industry and expanding it for export.

On Tuesday, July 18, Dabreo transported a quantity of coffee plants from Orange Hill to Congo Valley to begin this process.

A total of 50,000 plants is to be distributed to local farmers, 10,000 of which Dabreo told SEARCHLIGHT, he intends to plant. The farmer of 53 years, who is also this country’s largest banana farmer, also encouraged other farmers to get into the business, which promises to bear fruit in about three years time.

“The only problem I have is road, real bad road,” he added.

DaBreo said he doesn’t have proper access to his land at Congo Valley, which is a five to 10-minute drive up a dirt track. He said he would prefer if he had been sold land that was flat, so he would “roll instead of crawl,” when tending to his crops.

Following the first round of planting out this season, the first coffee beans will be ready for harvest in three years and according to a release, Shenton Farms will buy the crop at globally-set prices, meaning farmers will not have to worry about finding local buyers or traffickers.

The release further stated that on top of the free seedlings and guaranteed purchase, the company is also putting together a technical support programme for farmers. This will ensure all interested parties have the knowledge and skills they need for a successful harvest, regardless of their prior experience.

The planting process comes after the company’s owner, Colin Shenton, an English businessman with a growing chain of coffee shops in the UK, spent some time in SVG over the last 25 years and learned that the climate and geography of the mainland would provide good conditions to begin production of a coffee supply chain for the UK market.

With government support, including temporary use of the Ministry of Agriculture’s facilities at Orange Hill as a nursery, Shenton Farms plans to make use of Vincentian agricultural expertise.

The company is also providing the trees and technical support to farmers keen on exploiting the opportunities afforded by Britain’s increasing demand for high-quality gourmet coffee.

The company intends to plant 1,500 000 trees in total over the next 10 or so years.

“Over the next 15 years, we hope to have a thousand acres of coffee trees. They grow for 30 or more years, so this will be a viable industry for future generations. For the business to be successful, everyone involved needs visible benefits, hence the current push to get views and opinions from all interested parties,” operations manager Gary Blackman said in a release last week.

“Sustainability is crucial to the business.” Shenton Farms may be contacted by 528-3465 or email: enquiries@shentonfarms.com and also by @ShentonFarms on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

LAST NEWS