Farmers in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines now have the alternative to grow fully organic crops with the opening of a Compost Facility at the Orange Hill Biotechnology Centre.
The Compost Facility is a joint collaboration between the Governments of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and is part of a larger project entitled “Strengthening Farmer's Organization and Improving Fruit and Vegetable Production Technology in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines”.
The Project includes the establishment of eight Farmers’ Cooperatives which produce various agricultural commodities; training of Farmers and Extension Officers to strengthen their capacity to aid in the improved management of cooperative organizations; soil sample collection; analysis and fertilizer recommendations; the procurement of equipment; and the outfitting of the Probiotics Laboratory. With regards to the Compost Facility, construction costs amounted to EC $1.5 million. It is equipped with three bio-digesters, a steam sterilizing machine and other inputs for vegetable seedling production. The Project was executed over a 4 year period at a cost of EC $7, 273, 832.00.
Addressing the handing over ceremony of the facility to the Ministry of Agriculture, Senior Agricultural Officer with responsibility for Extension and Advisory Services, Marcus Richards, described the Compost Facility as another fruit of the excellent collaboration between the Governments of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Chief Agricultural Officer, Ashley Cain, said this country’s agricultural sector is better and stronger because of Taiwan’s assistance. Cain expressed gratitude to the Government of Taiwan for its assistance and advised all stakeholders to make use of the support from “our friends”. According to Cain, agriculture in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has great potential and he commended Minister Caesar’s leadership adding that with his "leadership we can go far”.
The Chief Agricultural Officer shared a concern that he has where older folks are leaving the agricultural industry at a higher rate than it is being replenished by younger folks. Cain noted that this can present a challenge in the near future and stressed the need to engage youths.
Ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, H.E. Calvin Ho, said he is pleased that his Government was able to collaborate with Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on yet another project. Ambassador Ho stated that the two Governments have worked closely together on agriculture over the years.
The Ambassador disclosed that with the new equipment, 552 soil sample tests have been conducted and 6 metric tonnes of bio-fuel produced. The project also covered training for eight Agriculture Officers in Taiwan under the International Cooperation and Development Fund (IDCF). Ambassador Ho said more projects will be carried out in the future and they will continue to work with the Ministry of Agriculture to make Saint Vincent and the Grenadines one of the best agricultural nations in the region.
Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Saboto Caesar, thanked the Government and People of Taiwan for their contribution to the Government and People of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. According to Minister Caesar, when the agricultural history is written in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Taiwan will be featured prominently.
Minister Caesar used the opportunity to highlight health risks associated with chemicals used in the agricultural sector. He said the ultimate goal is not only to ensure that Vincentians have a constant food supply but that the foods consumed are safe. In light of this, Minister Caesar disclosed that his ministry will be taking serious steps to curtail the importation of foods with high pesticide contents. He noted that heightened surveillance of imported commodities will be introduced in the first quarter of 2019.