THE Ministry of Agriculture continues to work toward reducing the food import bill by engaging farmers and buyers to ensure that locally-grown produce has a market.
Kemuel Jn Baptiste, the ministry’s Chief Extension Officer, said the ministry has held a dialogue with farmers regarding the acreage needed to produce a range of crops presently in demand on the market.
He explained, “What we have done is look at the figures and we have determined import volumes and what will be required on our part, in Saint Lucia, to fulfil, in the first stage, 30% of the import.”
The crops include lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, sweet peppers, watermelon, pineapples and cantaloupes.
The ministry, meanwhile, is working on securing an agreement with buyers to ensure that once the produce is readily available, there is a market for sales.
According to Jn Baptiste, “We are aware that some of our biggest buyers are some of the biggest importers – like our supermarket chains, so we need to secure a commitment to the process.
“There are challenges of staying in the market – seasonal, climate change and other events that we have no control over — and with that in mind, we are hoping that the buyers will commit themselves to help the farmers trade in these particular crops.” (GIS)