For the first two months of 2020, there has been a 45% increase in Agri-exports from St. Vincent and the Grenadines compared to the same period in 2019.
According to Hon. Saboto Caesar, the Minister of Agriculture of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, “we must replicate this in every member state now!”
In a report from the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Port Authority:
“As of February 2020, total agricultural produce exported amounted to 1,473 tons. When compared against, the previous corresponding period in 2019, with a total of 1,011 tons. A difference of 462 tons was noted. Of the total regional cargo exported from the port, 89% accounts for agricultural produce as compared to 79% in 2019 for the corresponding period.”
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in 2015, launched the Agri-Export Strategy Initiative. The aim was to boost intra-regional trade in agricultural commodities and fish products.
Mr. Jai Rampersad of Bunny Imports and Exports,Trinidad and Tobago, Mr. Colville King of the Ministry of Agriculture, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Miss. Sunita Daniel, then attached to the OECS Secretariat, assisted in drafting the project.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines has experienced an increase in the demand for
agricultural commodities amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Farmers and fishers will soon obtain support from the Ministry of Agriculture to support production and marketing. Similarly, several member states of CARICOM have allocated resources to boost agriculture production.
Minister Caesar, who currently chairs the CARICOM Food Security Committee in response to threats to regional food security as a result of COVID-19, noted, “we have a golden opportunity to create an intra-Caricom trade platform revealing our potential to feed ourselves.
We must not take a sunset approach to this opportunity. All Caricom member states will be in great need of the circulation of wealth to be created from the production and trade in Agriculture and Fisheries, in light of the anticipated downtown in Tourism as a result of COVID 19. It must be the start of a new dispensation. Each member state must get a piece of the pie. We must produce our food for us by us!”
The Minister advised that point persons have been nominated in each Caricom Member State to provide information on national production platforms and potential intra-regional agri exports and imports. A paper will be finalized and presented next week outlining the modalities that will facilitate the process.
The OECS Secretariat is currently cementing several years of efforts to deepen intra-regional trade. It continues to work steadfastly with agriculture stakeholders to bring greater returns to all.