CASTRIES, St Lucia, Thursday September 28, 2017 – Agriculture officials in St Lucia are in discussions about an insurance and pension scheme as part of the new programme for agriculture.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Cooperatives, Natural Resources and Physical Planning Ezekiel Joseph said that given global adverse weather conditions due to climate change, an insurance programme for farmers is critical to the stabilization of the agriculture sector.
“With the reality of climate change and the frequency with which we experience drought, hurricanes, and tropical storms, this is even more important now,” he said.
“We had an insurance programme just for bananas, but we are reviewing this and we are looking at an insurance policy that will cover agriculture—including fisheries and livestock.”
Farmers have also been calling on the ministry to put the issue of a pension plan back on the table. This, Joseph said, is being very seriously considered.
“We are looking at options,” he said.
Meanwhile, things are looking up for the vital banana industry and for agriculture on the whole, the Agriculture Minister said. Banana exports to the French territories will begin in November, as productivity in the sector continues to show improvement.
“When you compare this period to last years, there has been an increase in production. We have seen at least 40 farmers reintroduced to the export market. These farmers had either abandoned their fields or were looking at the regional market,” he said.
At present, there are a number of town hall meetings taking place across the island to educate farmers about the new programme for agriculture and to get them to appreciate the need for maintaining consistency of quality.