St Lucia Marketing Board should conduct sales and storage for farmers
Kemuel Jn Baptiste
The closure of hotels and restaurants as a result of the COVID-9 pandemic is an opportunity for the Saint Lucia Marketing Board to re-establish itself and be part of the food security drive.
That’s according to Kemuel Jn Baptiste, chief extension officer in the Department of Agriculture, which has collaborated with the St Lucia Marketing Board to provide markets to farmers.
The St Lucia Marketing Board, which is currently opened, travels to various communities around the island to purchase crops from farmers.
“This is an opportunity for the St Lucia Marketing Board to rise up and take advantage of the situation. It has to re-establish itself as an agency through which farmers can sell their produce and facilitate storage,” Jn Baptiste told Loop News.
He said the marketing board has a packhouse and storage facilities such as chillers which are readily available for use.
“What the St Lucia Marketing Board needs to do is to strategically position itself to absorb the farmers’ produce because not all of it will be able to be distributed right away,” Jn Baptiste said.
According to him, the marketing board can also assist farmers who export their produce to other countries in the region.
“The marketing board can facilitate the exports we have in excess. It can be the agent that liaison with CARICOM and OECS to procure supplies for those territories,” Jn Baptiste said.
He advises the farmers to reduce on their production due to the closure of hotels and restaurants on the island, which was the main markets for many of them.
Jn Baptiste said the farmers will find it difficult to increase their production due to the drought season and the curfew which has resulted in them spending less time on their farms.
A few days ago, farmers of the Belle Vue Farmers’ Co-operative in Soufriere had expressed concern about the effects of losing their main market as a result of the coronavirus. They are now forced to reduce on their production and engage in roadside vending.