The Ministry of Agriculture is hoping to export a 40-foot container of butternut squash to the UK every week. (Internet photo)

The Ministry of Agriculture will Friday distribute butternut squash seeds to 15 farmers in an effort to increase production so as to export a 40-foot container of the fruit to the United Kingdom weekly.

Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar told a press briefing on Wednesday that the country is also hoping to ramp up production of bananas, hot peppers, and sweet potatoes to meet export demands.

He said a critical part of agricultural thrust in St. Vincent and the Grenadines embodies the idea of diversification around banana.

Caesar said it is “of great interest that Winfresh started with a very important partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture to diversify around the marketing of the commodity by first signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for St. Vincent and the Grenadines to export some six 40-foot containers of several commodities to the United Kingdom.

Related: SVG to export 40ft containers of root crops to the UK

“This MOU was signed under three months ago and recently we had a visit by Winfresh and we would have set out the agenda and the programme for the development and implementation of this new export strategy initiative.”

Caesar said that the ministry will begin with butternut squash and added that there are farmers in SVG who have a history of growing the fruit.

He, however, noted that a significant quantity of butternut squash is imported into SVG from the Untied States of America.

“Firstly, this thrust is targeted and it has as a key objective to reduce the imports of butternut squash into St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It is one thing to have an export strategy, and that export strategy is one that we are going forward with, but we also have to take into consideration that we have to produce more and we have to consume more of what we produce,” Caesar said.

He said 20 acres of land have been   earmarked and 15 farmers are willing to start the cultivation of butternut squash.

“However, it is not going to be a one off export. It is something that is going to take place every week. Therefore, the technicians in the ministry, they are working out the programme so that they can place the intervals for planting so that we can have the requisite quantities available to secure our market space in the United Kingdom coming from St. Vincent and the Grenadines on a weekly basis,” Caesar said.

He said that in addition to receiving seeds on Friday, the 15 farmers will be assisted with fertilizer and ministry officials will be assigned to them to ensure that they meet the quality that is needed for export and that they follow the proper technical knowledge so that that there can be the proper yields per acre.

“Once we have the proper yield per acre, it is then going to be a profitable exercise for all of us.”

Caesar said: “There are also community officer assigned in the Ministry of Agriculture and I want to say to farmers that we are actually now offering you the opportunity to express and interest in growing these commodities.

“Many times, when you introduce new crops, persons sometimes do not want to embrace diversification and they may not readily want to come into the planting of a crop that they do not have the expertise in.

“But, it is one of the hurdles that we are going to face, and I am indeed moved in a very positive way that over the last month that we were able to have a farmer base of 15 persons already with 20 acres and I am certain that once we work hand in hand with the technical persons in the ministry, that we would be able to produce the requisite standards and the quantities needed for us to export to the UK.”

Regarding the cultivation of onions, Caesar said his ministry is building a farmer base and asking particularly for farmers on the Leeward (western) side of St. Vincent to become a part of the producer base to produce the commodities.

He said interest can be expressed by registering at any of the agricultural stations.

3 replies on “Farmers to receive squash seeds as gov’t eyes weekly exports to UK”

  1. It is important when writing these articles that the ordinary man understands the terminology of such a piece.

    MOU stands for Memorandum Of Understanding.

    A memorandum of understanding (MoU) describes a bilateral or multilateral agreement between two or more parties. It expresses a convergence of will between the parties, indicating an intended common line of action. It is often used in cases where parties either do not imply a legal commitment or in situations where the parties cannot create a legally enforceable agreement. It is a more formal alternative to a gentleman’s agreement.

    It is not a firm contract, it is not an enforceable contract, it is what the parties intend to do something but are not legally bound to do.

    Like the fish and frozen vegetables that was sent to New York, we may never get paid for the shipment.

    A clever business man would have clinched a proper contract, but Mr Caeser is not a business man, but he is clever and he is trying hard.

    The problem is that it is the farmers who are putting in all the effort, and they probably beieve that there is a binding contract for their produce.

    CROSS THE FLOOR SABATO, AND CLOSE THE DOOR.

  2. CooEeeeeeeeeee election time is coming, the bull$hit seed is about to be sown.

    There may be a market from November until April when they cannot be grown in the UK. Butternut Squash should produce fruit within 40 days of planting the seed. The same ground cannot be used for two years running for squash. The plant is available either in bush or vine form, the bush variety being best for SVG.

    The plant cannot tolerate nematodes which the whole of the lands in Saint Vincent island is infested with. It is also susceptible to the vine beetle which has been a problem in SVG, being allowed to get out of control by the ministry of Agriculture.

    In ideal conditions it’s grown with ease in tropical and subtropical areas. But there is a lot of competition and it is sometimes dumped in London and Birmingham wholesale markets on a commission basis. Whereby overseas suppliers send it and the wholesaler sell it for whatever they can get for it and then take a percentage commission for handling it.

    Remember that America and Africa are huge producers and difficult to compete with.

    A sound contract should be negotiated with the UK buyer of the product, a memorandum of understanding [MOU] is just not a good enough guarantee for our farmers to start producing hundreds of tons. To fill a forty foot container for the UK will mean there will be the equivalent of a further two containers each week that will not be up to export standard. It is important that a local or regional market is made for that surplus before we undertake to ship to the UK. I just hope the Mr Caesar fully understands what he is doing.

    The product shipped will have to be unmarked and unblemished, without and skin damage by handling, insects or birds. The squash will need to be size graded and export packaged.

    An MOU is not a firm contract, it is a written understanding between buyer and seller but cannot be enforced, it can be abandoned or shelved at anytime. It is a procedure that usually precedes a firm contract. Goods should not be shipped against an MOU. I just hope the Mr Caesar fully understands what he is doing.

    Unless you get this right it could well further compound the ruining of the farmers, that is what the ULP government have proven to have the only expertise in, when it comes to agriculture, the ruination of our farmers.

    CROSS THE FLOOR SABATO, AND CLOSE THE DOOR.

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