An agriculturalist and political activist says that Vincentian agriculture cannot be “competitive and penetrative” in any market without an irrigation system.

Lauron “Sharer” Baptiste made the point at a New Democratic Party virtual campaign rally this month.

Baptiste said that St. Vincent and the Grenadines now has 10 acres of irrigated farmlands from a government system that once had between 1,200 and 1,500 acres irrigated.

He said that in 1984, the NDP administration installed an EC$25 million irrigation system in the north-eastern St. Vincent — from San Souci to Orange Hill.

In 2004, 2005 a storm destroyed the system. This government deliberately did not fix the system,” Baptiste said.

Citing drought as “a classic example”, Baptiste said that SVG’s agriculture cannot be “competitive and penetrative” in any market without an irrigation system.

“We have seen farmers stay at home, have to turn away from their farms. Why? Because there’s no water.”

He said that to try to combat this, the ruling Unity Labour Party administration installed in Langley Park an irrigation system that could service 120 acres.

“Only 10 acres out of 120 is connected. It has a capacity for another 110 acres, but due to the financial hardship on farmers, they cannot purchase the on-farm equipment for them to use,” Baptiste said.

“I’m saying to the farmers of North Windward and across St. Vincent and the Grenadines, under a New Democratic Party, this would not happen. So help is on its way,” said Baptiste, who failed in his bid to win North Windward for the NDP in 2015.

Baptiste said that SVG is not getting any bigger in terms of its land mass.

“So what we must do, we must increase our agricultural yield and productivity. And one way of doing that is to make sure that we have an efficient and effective irrigation system,” said Baptiste, whose wife, Senator Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, an NDP lawmaker and election candidate has been showing, on Facebook, the yield from vegetables planted during this year’s drought, said to be the worst in SVG in 70 years.

“In order for us to be competitive in regional and international markets, we must increase our yield at least by 150%. We can do it. The New Democratic Party will do it,” Baptiste said.

He said that in 2000, SVG exported 50,000 metric tonnes of ground provision and “a few bananas” which generated EC$59.5 million.

“In 2019, we exported 6,000 metric tonnes valued at $9.4 million,” Baptiste added.

“Brothers and sisters, we are not going to talk agriculture and pose up for you. You won’t see Major (NDP Vice-president St. Clair Leacock) carrying a bucket to say you’re gonna gi’ goat water,” Baptiste said in an apparent reference to a video posted by Agriculture Minister Saboto Caesar on Facebook.

“Or you won’t see Bruce bend down by a pepper tree and he ain’t know what he looking for,” he said in another apparent reference to the minister.

“We are going to work with the farmers to make sure that we bring about prosperity in St. Vincent and Grenadines,” Baptiste said.

5 replies on “Irrigation key for ‘competitive and penetrative’ agriculture in SVG”

  1. The NDP put it in and maintained it. It was a wonder for VIncentians farmers and a must for the proction of their produce.

    The ULP sacked the irregation team of workers who maintained the system, then neglected it until it no longer exists today. I am not sure if the workers eventually got paid but at the time they said the government had stopped paying them.

    Blame the ULP for the irregation failure that SVG now lives with. They are so into taking farmers land away to create a tourist industry that they abandoned agriculture. Pretending occasionally to introduce something that will make the farmers viable again. Everything the introduce fails..

  2. Percival Thomas says:

    Agriculture is the backbone of the economy of SVG. The sector needs more investment from the government.

  3. I have been crying that we need irrigation for over a decade. Soboto Caesar has done some good things and is well appreciated but his biggest and maybe only mistake is to close down the irrigation department after not paying them for months. MOST FARMERS DID NOT EVEN KNOW WE HAD AN IRRIGATION DEPARTMENT! IF I DID I WOULD HAVE BEGGED THEM TO COME TO MY LAND!
    James H. If you are reading… help me remind the government that the single first element that brought humanity from “undeveloped” to “developed” is IRRIGATION!!! (not roads) Anyone who reads the oldest literature known on Earth ” The Epic of Gilgamesh” written around 4000 BC (or BCE) can understand that Irrigation is what made humanity flourish. IN SVG (supposedly an agricultural/tourism nation) WE ARE GOING BACKWARDS BY SHUTTING IT DOWN! I have even went to Soboto Caesar and told him my thoughts.

    NO FARMER HAS THE RIGHT TO DAM-UP A RIVER TO COLLECT WATER! THIS IS NOT A SIMPLE DECISION. GOVERNMENT HAS TO BE THE MAIN PARTY INVOLVED. WHAT ARE THEY DOING IN THIS AREA THUS FAR?

    BAPTISTE IS VERY ACCURATE. WITHOUT IRRIGATION, AGRICULTURE IN SVG WILL CONTINUE TO FAIL! The government wants to become self-sufficient in food production and lower imports. It seems they just do not know what they are doing.

    I do not know what is the worst:… the stupidity of our economic system, the taxation that robs the hard-working and clever-thinking of the fruits of thier labour, to give to those that are not productive, (to include our Customs-Duty policies) or our stupidity in a few aspects of agriculture that guarantees we will never grow an abundance of food. Both these problems will guarantee we will continue to fail as a nation and we will never be where we could be.

  4. What could Vincentians expect from this bunch who holds political office here! Some time ago, did they not tell us that “Agriculture was dead”! Therefore, why would they bother with agriculture? What fools!

    Their actions since then has sure confirmed to us their negligent attitude towards Vincentian Agriculture and food security! They don’t care one bit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCYeLuURxRM

    Would more neglect and failure in our Agriculture affect this careless governing family of ours or the rich and powerful politicians here? Of course not! Worst, they have allowed much flat agricultural lands be turned over to housing. How stupid! Can we ever grow more inexpensive food in SVG efficiently? For sure we can but government have to be bothered. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8c5ZN7BseNA

  5. When food production is imperative good policies are always necessary “……. on the banks of the River Senegal, along the border with Mauritania, is home to a community of small-scale farmers spread across a handful of villages who for centuries have been channelling the river’s water to grow and consume local produce.” Can we in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines ever rise to our growing challenge?
    https://interactive.aljazeera.com/aje/2020/senegal-village-of-women/index.html

    Is agriculture really dead here?

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