Thirty-eight female farmers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) are better equipped to lead as agricultural entrepreneurs after graduating from the Women’s Farmers Academy on Aug. 9.
The Women’s Farmers Academy is a gender-sensitive public health intervention that focuses on helping women farmers improve their income and establish a sustainable livelihood. The programme was organiaed by Helen’s Daughters, a non-profit organisation based in St. Lucia, through collaboration with the University of the West Indies’ project, Improving Household Nutrition Security and Public Health in the CARICOM (Food and Nutrition, ‘FaN’ project).
SVG’s Ministry of Health’s Ethics Committee also approved the academy.
For eight weeks, participants were exposed to sessions that strengthened their agri-enterprise skills. Topics covered included financial literacy, food safety, nutritional marketing, and market linkages.
All sessions were led by subject-matter experts from SVG and across the Caribbean region.
Facilitators also brought substantial experience having worked within rural and agricultural communities themselves. While this is the third and final cohort for the Women’s Farmers Academy in SVG, this training is not the first organised by Helen’s Daughters.
Comprehensive work, including similar Women’s Farmers Academies, have been completed in St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, training over 1,000 women since 2016 and helping hundreds of farmers transition away from pesticides, adopt more efficient business strategies and achieve more sustainable incomes.
Founder and Executive Director of Helen’s Daughters, Keithlin Caroo reflected on the programme completion and expressed how much it means to support female farmers with the right resources and access.
“The women of St. Vincent and the Grenadines have continued to impress and inspire me. We started the Women’s Farmers Academy shortly after the volcanic
eruption and these women still pushed through and close to 300 women registered. Interestingly enough, many of them came from the areas most affected by the eruption, it just goes to show the tenacity and perseverance of these women and if supported fully, agriculture in St. Vincent and the Grenadines would be in good hands,” Caroo said.
“On a larger scale, our organisation is committed to ensuring that female farmers not only have the tools they need to grow their ventures and access to markets, but also that their public status as astute agriculturists is recognized and acknowledged nationally”.
Helen’s Daughters will continue work across SVG in the coming months; and, according to the valedictorian of programme, Risha Alleyne, “soon the island will not only be known for breadfruit, blackfish, arrowroot, and strong rum but the islands will also be known for strong, resourceful female farmers and agro-processors who are proud to be Helen’s Daughters”.