Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar, this week visited the Arrowroot Factory at Owia, where the processing of this year’s crop has begun.
Caesar said an additional 20 acres of arrowroot were planted in 2013 and the Ministry is looking forward to an increase in production.
He said that the Ministry has been working on the farmers’ behalf and was able to get an increase in the price paid to farmers for the rhizomes. Two years ago, the price for rhizome was $0.35 per pounds, but has now risen to $1 per pound.
Caesar attributed the increase to a hike in the price of starch, from US$5 per pound to US$7 per pound.
The Minister encouraged farmers to increase their production and acreages in arrowroot.
“There are significant sums to be made, the returns are looking good and we are encouraging more farmers to become involved in the production of arrowroot in St. Vincent.”
He said there are 80 acres of arrowroot being planted in the country, namely in North Windward, North Central Windward, South Windward, and Marriaqua.
Caesar said that the Arrowroot Growers Association will be working with farmers throughout the country to ensure that they see the production of arrowroot on the Leeward side of the island, this year.
“There are several mechanisms and techniques that are in place and the Farmers Support Company will be providing credit to arrowroot farmers in the sum of $500,000,” Caesar said.
The Agriculture Minister encouraged farmers to continue with the programme of diversification, adding that the Ministry is looking at accessing markets in Asia for exports.
He said there is a demand for 80,000 pounds of arrowroot starch in the United States and the Ministry is in the early stage of exploring the packing arrowroot for medicinal purposes.