Efforts are being made here to restore arrowroot to its rightful place in Vincentian society by way of a Madungo Festival to be held on Saturday October 27th 2018.
To this end the festival is being staged by the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), Arrowroot Industry Association, with the full support of the Ministry of Housing, headed by Hon. Montgomery Daniel, Parliamentary Representative for North Windward, the constituency in which arrowroot is predominantly grown.
The Madungo Festival is slated to take place at the Chatoyer National Park, Rabacca. Minister Daniel said that he cannot distance himself from the Festival as it will be held in his constituency, and that Cabinet has asked him to have some oversight in the arrowroot industry. He expressed happiness that his constituency still has a thriving arrowroot industr, which contributes to the socio-economic stability of farmers in that part of the country.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday October 22nd 2018, the area representative disclosed that last year, $1.3 million was paid to farmers for their rhizomes, noting that they want to continue with the industry. He described arrowroot as very healthy, and that this country has one of the best starches in the world.
The Minister of Housing used the opportunity to announce another activity that will take place at the Chatoyer National Park on Independence Day. He explained there will be an official ceremony to handover title letters for building lots to persons in the constituency. This, he said, will add support to the Madungo Festival. According to Minister Daniel, 110 letters for building lots will be distributed to needy persons in the area, persons who were displaced in Sandy Bay as a result of the disaster last year, and to persons who previously squatted on lands that now form part of the Chatoyer National Park. The official handover ceremony will begin at 3:00 p.m., after which an entertainment package will follow.
Manager of the Arrowroot Industry Association, Mr. Selmon Walters, said that the theme of the Madungo Festival is "Eat what you know, eat what you grow, let's go with Madungo." The aims of the festival, according to Walters, are to increase local consumption of arrowroot starch, to create awareness and to boost agricultural diversification in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
He said arrowroot used to be one of the main food commodities for rural communities, but over the years there has been a decline in local consumption. This he said was due mainly to the push to export most of the starch produced here. Mr. Walters has high hopes for the success of this year’s Madungo Festival, so much so that it will be included in this country’s cultural calendar. He urged everyone to support the festival as there will be lots of Madungo delicacies on sale, including packaged arrowroot products.
Madungo is one of the traditional foods in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, derived from the starch of the arrowroot crop. Over the years, there has been a decline in its consumption, as well as the knowledge of how to prepare certain dishes from the starch.