The Ministry of Agriculture, with the support of the government of Taiwan, will next year begin implementing an import substitution programme for a range of crops in an effort to reduce Saint Lucia’s food import bill. Agriculture Minister, Ezechiel Joseph, made the disclosure at a news conference.
“I can report here today that the government of Taiwan has approved with the government of Saint Lucia, a three-year project looking at the import substitution programme. We have identified seven crops because we can’t grow everything. We need to focus on what we can grow and grow it on a sustainable basis,” the minister announced.
Joseph, who is just back from an official visit to Taiwan, identified the crops to be targeted in the import substitution programme as cucumbers, lettuce, sweet peppers, cabbages, watermelons, pineapples and cantaloupes.
According to the minister, Saint Lucia imports some seven million dollars of the crops identified on a yearly basis.
“We are identifying farmers that we know can grow these crops. We are going to give them the support and the new technology so we can grow these crops on a sustainable basis,” Joseph told reporters.
“One of the outcomes of our visit to Taiwan was looking at new technology. We are restructuring the Saint Lucia Marketing Board because that is critical, because farmers need a reliable market for them to be able to sell their produce on a timely basis,’ he stated.