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Steps to increase income from arrowroot production outlined

Steps to increase income from arrowroot production outlined

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Small farmers can benefit from increased income, once necessary steps are taken to diversify the arrowroot industry in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

Stakeholders gathered at the Foreign Affairs conference room on Tuesday to discuss a study carried out by the International Trade Centre (ITC) on the arrowroot sector in SVG.

“The AIA – Arrowroot Industry Association has indicated that they have buyers’ interest for 100 thousand pounds of starch per year,” Raymond Ryan, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture revealed.

“The potential market, however, is estimated to be significantly larger, given growing global demand for gluten-free products.”

Ryan said that factors including low prices, competition from bananas and inefficient processing technology caused arrowroot starch production and export to drop from four million pounds in 1962 to just over 100 thousand pounds in 2016.

The Permanent Secretary acknowledged that current processing facilities are inefficient and there needs to be improvement in the sanitary conditions.

“Arrowroot starch is a food product and as such, compliance with international food safety systems is critical to the survival of the industry, particularly as main destination markets are introducing rigorous food safety requirements to reduce probability of food-borne illnesses,” he said.

Like Ryan, Matias Urrutigoity, representative from the ITC, outlined that while markets are there, they are evolving and standards are increasing.

He added that it is therefore important to ensure that these standards can be met in the long-term, which will in turn result in more income for farmers.

“The objective of today is to share with you on the study we have made to understand what is the market, what are the opportunities and challenges, what are the full safety requirements and conditions the market is demanding and how that translates into technology and processing options that you have here for transforming the industry,” the ITC representative said.(BK)

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