Taiwan has pledged to help St. Vincent and the Grenadines country enhance its production of bananas.
Taiwan’s ambassador to SVG, Calvin Ho, gave the pledge during his address at the launch of the first phase of the Banana Revitalisation Programme on June 21 at the Orange Hill Laboratory.
This project will focus on control methods to improve black sigatoka management on a pilot area of 200 acres ranging from Colonarie to Orange Hill. It is anticipated that it will contribute to the reduction in the incidence of black sigatoka on bananas and plantains through public awareness and on farm technical support.
Ho said he is cognisant of the important role that the banana industry and the agricultural industry at large play in the economy of SVG country and was happy when he learnt about the Banana Revitalization Project.
He added that he is also aware of the challenges in the banana sector and that Tawian will assist by sharing their experiences with the local farmers to help them overcome the difficulties that they are currently facing.
The Taiwan envoy noted that SVG and his country have collaborated on a number of projects since establishing diplomatic ties more than three decades years ago, but the Banana Revitalisation Project is the most meaningful to him because of the significance of the banana industry.
“We will work together with our colleagues from the Ministry of Agriculture and with our farmer friends; together we can do something to enhance the production of the banana.”
Permanent Secretaryin the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour, Raymond Ryan, said the launching of the Banana Revitalisation Programme through the Improvement of the Black Sigatoka Management Project will continue to augment SVG’s continuing efforts to control the Black Sigatoka Disease and will find mechanisms to reduce cost to farmers and improve the quality and quantity of food produced.
He said this holistic approach considers the main factor affecting the management of the disease and will seek to improve them.
Ryan pointed out that a number of activities are included in the first phase of the project namely soil sampling, global positioning system, mapping of farms, farmer training in disease identification and management, provision of equipment and provision of fungicide to control the disease.
“The Ministry continues to strive for the improvement of the livelihood of all farmers throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadines and it is envisaged that this project will make a significant impact on the control of the Black Sigatoka.”
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour, Saboto Caesar, expressed gratitude to the Government and people of Taiwan for the excellent work that they have done in agriculture in SVG over the years.
He said the project came after a period of consultation with Taiwan and they noted that they wanted to put the control of the Black Sigatoka at the fore.
“I want to thank the farmers for not giving up and for being a part of that cadre of persons who are supportive of the enterprise. It is not easy to grapple with Black Sigatoka, it is not easy to grapple with the vagaries of climate change especially if you are farming in areas where you do not have the irrigation support.”
The agriculture minister encouraged the banana farmers to look at the future of agriculture in SVG from the lens of a diversified production platform.
“I wish that in our analysis of where we are and where we want to go for us to appreciate that we are not looking at a single crop anymore, the days when we were relying on one crop, those days must be considered as long gone.”
Caesar urged the farmers to consider the issue of food security and to practice and promote a more climate resilient type of agriculture, especially during the hurricane season.
Approximately EC$1.3 million will be invested in the first phase of the Banana Revitalisation Programme through the Improvement of the Black Sigatoka Management Project over four years.
The Project is being carried out by the Government of SVG in collaboration with the Government of Taiwan.