The Ministry of Agriculture last Monday, August 16, received a consignment of seeds through the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation in Agriculture (IICA), to help boost its vegetable production programme in the wake of the eruptions of La Soufriere.
The 11,500 packets containing seeds for 15 different types of vegetables, were donated by the government of Brazil and would help the ministry’s thrust to “build back better”, IICA’s local representative Michael Dalton said at the handing over ceremony.
Chief Agricultural Officer, Renato Gumbs told SEARCHLIGHT that the seeds, which include tomatoes, radish, hot and sweet peppers, pumpkins, coriander, scallions and cabbage, will soon be distributed to farmers on completion of a selection process; while some will be used to produce seedlings.
This is one of several donations made by IICA to St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), in the months immediately following the eruptions, and will aid in the country’s import substitution thrust, Gumbs said.
Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar, who accepted the donation, referred to the direction of the ministry to slash the country’s $200 million food import bill by 50-percent.
He spoke about some elements of the initiative, including the transfer of technical skills to aid farmers in the production of some of the vegetables “which are not a natural fit in our history of production”; the identification of agri-ecolological zones for production; and working in collaboration with supermarkets for the sale of more local produce.
He assured farmers that “there’s space for new money in agriculture” noting that farmers can choose to move into production of new crops alongside those which they currently produce.
And he was full of appreciation for the assistance being provided.
“The brotherhood, the love shown to the government and people of St Vincent and the Grenadines over the last few months since the first eruption of la Soufriere and also” the damage done by Hurricane Elsa “has really been heart-warming”, Caesar said as he thanked IICA for its support and solidarity.
He was also grateful to the government and people of Brazil for contributing to the multilateral platform from which SVG has been benefiting.