Agro-processing to diversify St Lucia agriculture

CASTRIES, St Lucia, December 31, 2009 – St Lucia’s Agriculture Minister Ezekiel Joseph says he’s committed to the development and use of agro-processing techniques in the quest to diversify the agriculture sector and to add value to locally grown produce.
Speaking at the opening of a new facility in the region of Babonneau in the northwest of the island, he said there’s a need to utilise locally grown products “to produce down stream products that can provide much greater returns to our farmers”.

“As the minister for agriculture, my ministry thought it was important for us to go the direction of agro-processing and to revisit some of the gains and experiences which were accomplished in the past, to enable us to undertake this project and make it a reality,” he said.
When complete, the new Agro Processing Plant will facilitate the manufacturing of paper from “sudo stems”.
Locally grown breadfruit, dasheen, green plantain and green fig, will also be used to manufacture vacuum-packed products for export.
Minister Joseph says he is excited about the prospects of the vacuum-packed initiative since the products will be marketed locally, regionally and even internationally.
“With regard to the international markets, there is already a great demand for vacuum-packed products, so I would like to indicate that the new agro-processing facility will be operating at international standards. Because we will be dealing with food, we will have to satisfy ourselves that we are meeting all the requirements to ensure that we are in a position to export our products,” he said.

Joseph also added that he met recently with operators of several supermarkets in the United Kingdom and they are interested in purchasing vacuum-packed products from St Lucia.