February 4, 2014
Arrowroot production expected to rise in 2014

The 2014 Arrowroot reaping and grinding season has began, and Agriculture Minister Saboto Caesar visited the arrowroot factory at Owia last Wednesday to observe the grinding operation.{{more}}

Caesar noted that an additional 20 acres of arrowroot were planted in 2013, over the 2012 acreage, and the Ministry is looking forward to an increase in production. He stated that 10 fields have already been reaped.

The Minister said that the Ministry has been working on the farmers’ behalf and was able to get them a price increase for rhizomes. He said two years ago the price per pound for rhizomes was $0.35 and now it is $1.00. This, he attributes to an increase in the price of starch, up from US$5 to US$7 per pound.

The Minister encouraged farmers to increase production and the amount of land under cultivation:

“There are significant sums to be made, the returns are looking good and we are encouraging more farmers to become involved in the production of arrowroot in St Vincent.”

He noted that there is currently a total of 80 acres under arrowroot cultivation in the country; primarily in the constituencies of North Windward, North Central Windward, South Windward and Marriaqua.

Caesar said that the Arrowroot Association will be working with farmers throughout the country to ensure that arrowroot production extends to the leeward side of the island this year.

Caesar said, “There are several mechanisms and techniques that are in place and the farmers’ support company will be providing credit to arrowroot farmers in the sum of $500,000.”

The Agriculture Minister encouraged farmers to continue with the programme of diversification noting that the Ministry is looking at accessing markets in Asia for exports. He said there is a demand for 80,000lbs of arrowroot starch each year to two suppliers in the United States and the Ministry is in the early stage of exploring the packing of arrowroot for medicinal purposes.