The Voice Publishing Co.
         

powered by FreeFind
 

The Redevelopment of the Union Agricultural Station

The Union Agricultural Station has been allowed to deteriorate over the last four years during the reign of the previous Administration. This was primarily due to the impending relocation of the Station to Roseau in light of the Cabinet Conclusions (935 of December 15, 2003 and 508 of July 25, 2005) which allocated 12 – 15 acres of the Union Agricultural Station to the FIFA Goal Project.
Essentially, Phase I of the re-development of the Union Agricultural Farm includes the establishment of an Eco-Tourism Park and a Germplasm Conservation Bank to be financed by the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan.
New Government Policy :A recent shift in government policy dated December 2006, has resulted in the reallocation of all the agricultural lands given to the FIFA Goal Project by the SLP Government back to the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry and Fisheries. It should be noted, that approximately 8 acres of this land was degraded during the land preparation phase of the FIFA Goal Project. The severe land degradation is one of the major factors influencing the Ministry’s decision to develop an Aquaculture facility on 5 acres of the degraded farm lands immediately opposite the Dame Pearlette Louisy Primary School, and to develop the remaining farm area into a germplasm conservation and multiplication facility.
The Project Development of the Union Farm (Eco-tourism Park/ Germplasm Conservation Bank) is phase I of the Re-development of the Agricultural Station at Union. This project seeks in part to address the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries and Forestry’s strategic policy to conserve the nature resource base. The establishment of a botanical garden/ eco-tourism park will enable the Ministry to promote biodiversity conservation and management. This project will also assist in educating the public on natural resource management issues (i.e. the sustainable utilization of natural resource).
The Development of the Union Farm (Eco-tourism Park) will address two major problems encountered by the Propagation Division of the Ministry of Agriculture.
1. The limited variety of germplasm (fruit and ornamental) for propagation (production of plants).
2. The limited quantity of planting material (i.e. the volume of material needed in terms of cuttings, scion and seeds for the propagation of plants).
The Ministry of Agriculture still depends on the generosity of the public for its supply of planting material. The project also addresses another issue that is the lack of a National Botanical Garden Facility in St. Lucia. The old botanical gardens ‘George the Fifth Park’ is no longer functional and is being used for drainage mitigation purposes. A botanical garden is not only beneficial as a site for germplasm conservation, but can also be used as a center for education and a recreational facility.
2. PROJECT DESCRIPTION
The Development of the Union Farm :

Currently, the Union Farm consists of 26 acres of land divided by the Allan Bousquet Highway. The Union Propagation Station occupies about 5 acres of the 18 acre parcel to one side of the Highway, with the remaining area being allocated to the Veterinary Division, Aquaculture ponds (unused) and one WASCO facility.
The 8 acres of land to the south of the Union Propagation Station is only partially developed as the Union Stations germplasm repository, having one of the largest collections, (quantity and variety) of plant genetic material in the island. Although this is the largest collection island-wide, there is still the constraint of a limited variety of fruit and ornamental germplasm that the Propagating Nurseries can utilize for propagating purposes. One of the goals of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is, to develop the Union Farm into a center for learning, formal education, recreation and conservation of the island’s natural resources.
Specific Objectives :
1. To conserve and ensure the sustainable utilization of local fruit and ornamental germplasm.
2. To increase the range and variety of germplasm (planting material) available to the farming community and general public.
3. To develop an eco-tourism park/ botanical garden in conjunction with plant conservation.
4. To decrease the amount of ornamental plants imported into the country (by propagating them locally)
Deliverables :
- Fencing of Union Agricultural Station
- Establishment of a Botanical Garden
- Purchase and Establishment of new germplasm
- Conservation of endangered plant species
- Construction of Bridge linking botanical gardens to forest trail
- Establishment of children’s garden/ play area
- Upgrading of Forest Trail
a) Development of Union Farm – Plan
The area of the Union Farm consisting of 18 acres will consist of the following structures:
1. The Union Propagation Station
2. The Tissue Culture Laboratory
3. The Mushroom Model Farm
4. Greenhouse Vegetable production
5. Aquaculture Ponds

The Union Propagation Station will be expanded utilizing some of the area of the existing aquaculture ponds. The remaining area of these ponds will be utilized for the construction of the Mushroom Model Farm and the construction of Greenhouses (similar to that of St. Vincent) which will be used for the weaning and hardening of tissue culture plants. To execute this, the existing aquaculture ponds will be back-filled.
The Tissue Culture Laboratory will be constructed in the area where the previous farm workers quarters were located.
Four greenhouses will be erected for the demonstration of greenhouse vegetable production. This activity will be undertaken in conjunction with the Taiwan Technical Mission.
The aquaculture ponds will occupy the remaining 5 acres of the 18 acre plot immediately opposite the Dame Pearlette Louisy Primary School.
In order to prepare for the construction of the infrastructure the following activities are prerequisites:
- fencing
- clearing of the site
- clearing and cleaning of the main drain (drain separating the site from that of the factory shell)
- back-filling of existing aquaculture ponds
- removal and pruning of selected trees
b) Eco-Tourism Park : As part of the farm development, there are approximately12 acres of land which will be utilized for the establishment of the Eco-tourism Park. Currently, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries occupies 7 acres (germplasm bank) and CCI occupies the remaining 4 acres adjacent to WASCO.
The Eco-tourism Park’s primary purpose will be to function as an area for the conservation and sustainable utilization of plant germplasm for St. Lucia. The Eco-tourism Park will consist of the following areas:
- Botanical gardens
- Fruit germplasm collections
- Lily Pond
- Fountains
- Orchid house
- Herb and Medicinal garden
- Children’s garden and play area
- Heliconia garden
- Herbarium
- Endangered Species garden
- Forest trail
- Mini zoo
- Nursery
- Welcome center
- Palm collections
The four acres currently occupied by CCI will be utilized for the construction of a welcome center and parking lot for visitors to the park. The current germplasm bank will be landscaped to accommodate the botanical gardens, to include the ornamental and fruit germplasm collections, the orchid house, an open shelter (for formal and informal functions) and a fountain and lily pond. This eight acre plot will be connected to the Forestry trail by a bridge.
At the Forestry end of the Eco-tourism Park the children’s garden and eating area will be improved. The medicinal and herbal gardens will also be extended and improved. The collection of palms will be expanded and new areas will be cleared for the establishment of the Heliconia and endangered species gardens. The area will be landscaped and secured so that visitors will have access to the herbarium and the mini zoo. Visitors will also have access to the Union Forest trail.
ECONOMIC BENEFITS :
• Reduction in the food import bill (through increased quantities of planting material available to farmers.
• A reduction in the quantity of plants (ornamental, food and fruit) imported into St. Lucia.
• Increase revenue generation (plant sales, fees from eco-tourism park/ botanical garden). Also opportunity for increase in sale of local fruit and floral products at the park.
• Increase in employment (personnel for maintenance of the facilities)
• Improvement in the services provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries and Forestry.
• Increased linkage between various sectors. Example Agriculture and Tourism, Agriculture and Education.
Community and Social Benefits
• Increase in the value of the land.
• Potential for sale of local products (jams, jellies, and condiments) to tourist and local visitors from fruit varieties available in the germplasm bank.
Environmental Benefits
• Increase the quality and variety of both local and introduced germplasm available for use in landscaping of private and public areas.
• Improvement in soil and water conservation through improved drainage and increased plant establishment.
• Improvement in the general aesthetics of the area. Area will have a park-like landscape.
4. COST AND FINANCING
The first phase of the project will cost Eastern Caribbean Currency, one million eight hundred and sixty seven thousand and nine hundred dollars (EC $1,867,900).
The project will be funded through a Grant by the Government of Taiwan.