Approximately 15 entrepreneurs in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are engaged in a one-week training course in fruit drying, which ends Friday with an exhibition on Friday at the Centre of Excellence at Diamond.
The fruit drying training is facilitated by the Government of Colombia and executed through the Ministry of Education’s Adult and Continuing Education Department, with support from the Ministries of Agriculture and Foreign Affairs and is being conducted at the Centre of Excellence at Diamond.
Acting Director of the Adult and Continuing Education Department, Kathleen Jeffers told the opening ceremony that the training is the third phase of the fruit-drying project.
She said that the first two phases, a cocoa cultivation and harvesting course and a workshop on good manufacturing practices were conducted in August 2017.
Jeffers added that the Adult and Continuing Education Department knows the significance of providing opportunities for the adult population so that they can gain new knowledge and information, which will enable them to gain employment or to establish their own businesses.
Meanwhile, Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education, Beverly Neptune, stressed the importance of the initiative and said that this could be a game changer for local entrepreneurs.
She said that with the amount of fruits usually left for waste in SVG, gaining knowledge on fruit drying will benefit the country immensely, adding that she looks forward to seeing local dried-fruits on supermarket shelves in the near future from the entrepreneurs involved in the training.
The Ministry of Agriculture is supporting the Ministry of Education as an important stakeholder in this initiative.
Agriculture Diversification Officer Colville King encouraged the participants to make the most of the opportunity and to learn as much as they can to build their skills in fruit drying.
King said that the demand for dried fruits is growing globally and that training in the area will add great value to SVG.
And, Academic Coordinator of the Columbian Programme, Oscar Gelvezs said that the Columbian team is happy to be in SVG to bring their expertise in the area of fruit drying. He said that it is an area in which the Columbians are strong, having trained millions over the years.