Antigua & Barbuda Banking on Sweet Potato- and Cassava-Based Businesses to Boost Economic Activity

Local women being trained in bread baking.

ST JOHN’S, Antigua, Thursday February 21, 2019 – Antigua and Barbuda is banking on sweet potato and cassava as alternatives that could reduce its high import bill, through value added production in these chains, which will revitalize the economy.

Through a training initiative, nutrition teachers, NGO staff at the national level, staff from the local prison and members of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs (MoAFBA) of this country were recently instructed in the preparation of bread, using these two root crops.

The three-day workshop was spearheaded by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and MoAFBA, with support from the Epicurean Supermarket.

“The reason why these two products were chosen is that these types of bread have been made in other countries across the region and the recipes that we are using have been used and tested and have been successful in other countries in the Caribbean,” Sereno Benjamin, Extension Officer from MoAFBA, explained. “If the project succeeds, the products will replace 40 per cent of the flour in bread, thereby reducing imports and increasing the production of sweet potato and cassava in the country”.

The training is in keeping with IICA’s efforts to guarantee food security in a region with high import levels, and which is seeking to develop a production approach that increases the number of crops grown at the local level.

Craig Thomas, IICA Specialist in Antigua and Barbuda, indicated that this activity was first introduced in this country in 2016, under the Agriculture Policy Programme (APP) an EU funded Project coordinated by IICA.  The Institute and CARDI, in collaboration with other stakeholders, have implemented other initiatives to add value to these agricultural chains, thus satisfying specific public and private sector needs.

Extension Officer from MoAFBA, Owolabi Elabanjo, said Antigua and Barbuda intends to limit the utilization of wheat and wheat flour products.

“Through this project, we have identified two products that can substitute some of the flour that is consumed, and we hope that the public will embrace this new idea and experience better nutrition,” he said.

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