St. Lucia to reduce food import bill through vegetable import substitution programme

Agriculture Minister Ezechiel Joseph has said the vegetable import substitution program is one of the major projects for his ministry in 2020.

He said Saint Lucia did not experience the negative impact of climate change in 2019 and his ministry will be launching a number of projects related to the agriculture industry.

The vegetable import substitution program will involve a range of crops in an effort to reduce Saint Lucia’s food import bill.

In November 2018, Joseph said at a news conference that the government of Taiwan and the government of Saint Lucia had approved the three-year project.

“We have identified seven crops because we can’t grow everything. We need to focus on what we can grow and grow it on a sustainable basis,” he said.

He identified the crops to be targeted in the import substitution program as cucumbers, lettuce, sweet peppers, cabbages, watermelons, pineapples, and cantaloupes.

Joseph stated at the 2018 press conference that Saint Lucia imports some $7 million of the crops identified on a yearly basis.

Other projects on the card for 2020 by the Ministry of Agriculture include the construction of a meat processing facility in Dennery, the Agriculture Filler Root Program, the opening of the National Agricultural Diagnostics Facility, the opening of the Wildlife Educational Center at the Gabriel Charles Forestry Complex, the formal launching of the new marketing entity and the construction of the agricultural complex at Union.

Joseph also stated that the building of a new livestock complex and the finalization and presentation of a fisheries policy are also on the cards.