Photo: Phera Laster/Flickr. Watermelons like these could be grown locally in St. Lucia, reducing the need for imports.

CASTRIES, St. Lucia–In an effort to increase farmer production and sustainability, the Ministry of Agriculture in partnership with the Taiwan ICDF have been supporting farmers with various initiatives and programs including farmer training in areas of product development and marketing.

At the recently held graduation ceremony for the 2020 Region Six Farmer Training, the Ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to Saint Lucia, His Excellency Peter Shen reaffirmed his government’s commitment to assisting Saint Lucian farmers, stated a recent St. Lucia government press release.

“According to the statistics, Saint Lucia spends more than EC$6 million in imported fruits and vegetables such as cabbages, watermelons, cantaloupes and tomatoes each year, and import values have been increasing.

“So we thought, what if we could purchase them locally instead of buying from overseas and more specifically buying from local farms; and that’s the reason why the Government of Taiwan is working with the Government of Saint Lucia to promote local production of the seven important crops on a sustainable basis, which includes various programs.”

Farmer Iverson Calixte, a participant in the training program, encouraged farmers to make use of the knowledge imparted.

“I want to encourage us all not only to correctly apply the practices from this certification course but also to hold one another accountable for doing so. Our value to the Saint Lucian economy cannot be overstated, but we must cement this by infusing our knowledge into our daily practices.

“Moreover, I wish to encourage our farming community that although we may be operating in a competitive environment, that we work collaboratively as we share a common objective of improving the agriculture sector in Saint Lucia.”

The 2020 Farmer Training for Region Six forms part of a series of programs planned by the Ministry of Agriculture with support from the Taiwan Technical Mission and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), under the “Enhancement of the Efficiency of Production-Distribution Supply Chains in the Fruits and Vegetable Sector” project.