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IICA hands over more vegetable seeds to the Ministry of Agriculture

IICA hands over more vegetable seeds to the  Ministry of Agriculture
Michael Dalton (left) technical specialist of IICA handing over the seeds to Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar

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The International Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA) is playing an integral role in helping the agricultural sector recover from the Volcanic eruptions that wreaked havoc here earlier this year.

In this regard St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has now received another shipment of seeds through the hemispheric organisation.

The shipment was handed over to the Ministry of Agriculture last Tuesday November 23, and Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar says that the donation will go a long way in helping vegetable farmers recover from the damage brought on by the explosive eruptions.

He noted during the virtual event on Wednesday that a first donation of 11,500 packets of seeds was delivered to the Ministry of Agriculture on August 16, 2021 and the second donation of seeds, which was a combined shipment from Argentina and Chile was delivered to the Ministry in October.

This final donation of seeds came from the private company Bayer; seeds have also come from Brazil.

“IICA has been actively engaged with the Ministry of Agriculture and other partners from very early in the disaster, providing material and technical assistance to the response and recovery efforts,” Caesar said.

He added that IICA’s intervention also included a contribution of US$10,000 for livestock support in April, shortly after the explosive eruptions began.

“These monies were used to purchase 28 imperial tons of feed which were distributed to farmers by the Ministry of Agriculture, commencing April 16, 2021,” Caesar said.

He also noted that IICA chaired the Damage and Loss Assessment Committee at the request of the Ministry of Agriculture and this committee prepared the preliminary report for the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency(CDEMA), on damage and loss in the agriculture sector.

IICA also was represented on the committee addressing the very short-term response efforts from which a short term recoveries plan was prepared; and they have committed as well to providing a further USD$25,000 for the country.

“These resources, based on the advice of the Ministry of Agriculture were committed to the purchase of two greenhouse structures (30’X60’) and accessories which is intended for use in vegetable seedling production.

“IICA has held dialogue with the authorities in Argentina with a view towards providing further support to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Ministry of Agriculture has prioritised livestock and apiculture as two key areas for intervention,” the agricultural minister explained during the virtual ceremony.

It was also noted that IICA has received approval from the Canada Fund for Local Initiative for the implementation of a project for 30 vegetable producers. The project is valued at US$40,000.

Caesar said also that IICA provided a virtual forum in June for technicians from the Ministry of Agriculture to dialogue with colleagues from Guatemala and Costa Rica to learn from their experiences of managing soils impacted by recent volcano eruptions (both countries have had to respond to similar situations recently).

“IICA has provided several fora for the Ministry of Agriculture to speak to representatives and stakeholders across several countries and institutions in the public and private sectors in the Americas, with the intention of highlighting the situation in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, thus providing the opportunity for further assistance to emerge.

“IICA has responded to a request from Ambassador Lou Anne Gilchrist, received via the Committee on Natural Disaster Reduction, Organisation of American States to support efforts for volcanic ash analysis in the context of soil management. The Institute is responding to this request through a comprehensive approach that initially lays out a roadmap for actions. A team comprising technicians from the Ministry of Agriculture and IICA are working on this initiative,” Caesar added.

Among the seeds handed over are pumpkin, lettuce, scallion, watermelon, cabbage, sweet pepper, cucumber, and cantaloupe.