The shipment of arrowroot starch from St. Vincent suspected of being contaminated with salmonella after arriving in the United States three months ago has been cleared for use.
Purchasers of the arrowroot starch received the all clear from a laboratory in the United States and a full payment of US$266,000 has been made to the Arrowroot Association, the Ministry of Agriculture in Kingstown announced on Monday.
Some 26,000 pounds of arrowroot starch, almost two-thirds of this year’s production (40,000 pounds), was at risk of being rejected by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, even as the purchaser had already paid US$133,000, half of the value of the shipment.
The all clear in the United States comes weeks after an independent test of arrowroot in St. Vincent by the University of the West Indies (UWI) concluded that the starch at the factory in Owia was not contaminated with the bacteria.
In the wake of the contamination scare, Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar said his ministry is focusing on conducting much-needed repairs of the factory in Owia.
The ministry is meeting with technical advisors from Argentina and has begun discussions with the Central Development Bank to the factories in Owia and Orange Hill.
St. Vincent exported 45,000 pounds of arrowroot starch this year, 19,000 pounds more than in 2013.
The current demand for Arrowroot starch from SVG stands at 120,000 pounds annually.
Caesar said recently that his ministry is working to improve production.
The industry has seen increased production over the last three, during which the price per pound has risen from US$5 to US$7.
Local farmers have seen the price per pound paid to them increase from US$0.36 per pound to US$1.
The Arrowroot Association is expecting to export another 6,000 pounds of starch to the United States this week and to place 1,000 pounds on the Vincentian market.