January 21, 2014
Interest in greenhouse parks growing

Interest in greenhouse parks for vegetable production continues to grow among farmers, as the Ministry of Agriculture steps up its greenhouse sensitization campaign.{{more}}

Representatives of farmers’ groups in the Marriaqua community came together recently for their second meeting in the current campaign, and they plan to convene further sensitization sessions with their full membership later this month. Similar meetings were also held with groups in the Georgetown/Orange Hill and North Leeward areas.

Establishment of Greenhouse Parks is a major activity under the Fruit and Vegetable component of the BAM (Banana Accompanying Measures) – a European Union funded programme to modernise and develop the agricultural sector in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Philbert Gould, BAM’s Fruit and Vegetable Component leader is coordinating the sessions.

Under the programme, the Government has selected Mc Millan in the Montreal area, Dandrade in Orange Hill and Richmond in North Leeward to establish the parks. Farmers, through a hybrid cooperative structure, which can incorporate business interests, will establish and operate the parks, which will each comprise 25 greenhouses. Each park will be equipped with solar and irrigation facilities.

This approach to vegetable production is expected to lead to higher and more reliable output by reducing the seasonal nature of production and ensuring a more consistent quality. This, in turn, is expected to help secure better marketing arrangements, both locally and in overseas markets. It should also reduce vegetable imports, estimated at about EC$16.86 million between 2006 and 2010.

The farmers’ groups have noted the benefits of the greenhouse parks, but have signalled a strong desire for technical assistance and support with the establishment of the proposed cooperative structure. The Ministry has promised expert assistance under the BAM for this process.

Besides transforming the fruit and vegetable sector, the BAM also has components for reviving bananas, expanding and improving the quality of the livestock sector, developing effective marketing strategies, and engaging more youths in agriculture.