Castries, Saint Lucia, February 5, 2020 (IICA) – The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) is working alongside with the Saint Lucia Marketing Board to ensure its successful transformation in order to reduce the food import bill and improve the effective marketing of the farmer´s produce.
The Institute formed part of a team established to oversee the initial restructuring process of the Marketing Board and Fish Marketing Corporation.
The Marketing Board was reopened in April 2019, with Amatus Edward at the helm. The Saint Lucia Fish Marketing Corporation was privatized.
Edwards stressed that in keeping with the vision of Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Physical Planning, Natural Resources and Cooperatives, Ezekiel Joseph, “one of the major thrusts of the Marketing Board will be the facilitation of exports from the island as well as ensuring more effective coordination of farmer production and marketing to meet the requirements of both domestic and export markets”.
“That emphasis should be placed on establishing traceability systems which would contribute to improved food safety throughout the production-marketing chain”, said Edwards.
While many farmers in Saint Lucia possess solid markets for their produce, many experience challenges in securing stable and profitable markets. More importantly, the country continues to import an estimated EC $ 4.5 million (USD $ 1.67 million) annually.
Reducing the food import bill is of primary importance, and supporting the effective marketing of the farmers’ produce will address two key issues at once.
IICA Representative in the Eastern Caribbean States, Gregg Rawlins, welcomed the efforts towards revisiting the role and primary function of the Marketing Board and indicated IICA’s commitment to support these efforts.
“That emphasis should be placed on achieving balance between developmental and commercial activities of the Marketing Board and filling gaps where these existed while minimizing competition with the established private sector”, suggested Rawlins.
The Institute identified initiatives being spearheaded by the Delegation in Saint Lucia to build online platforms for market information and intelligence as well as to facilitate e-commerce activities.
The board welcomed the work of IICA in this area given that the restructured Marketing Board would be a 21st century marketing facilitation entity.
“It was clear the government of Saint Lucia had displayed the necessary leadership in the restructuring process and with the appropriate resources, the Marketing Board would have the necessary impact”, said Allister Glean, specialist in Agribusiness and Value Chains of IICA and member of the team that was established to oversee the initial restructuring process of the board.
Both parties agreed to regular engagements moving forward to support the restructuring and development process. Edwards welcomed the input of IICA and stressed that the Marketing Board would do its part to ensure that the marketing of farmers’ produce would be undertaken in an efficient and dynamic manner.
Efforts would be pursued to earn foreign exchange and source overseas markets while reducing imports.
About the St. Lucia Marketing Board:
The Marketing Board was created in 1968. It was established to address deficiencies in produce marketing. Its main purpose was to stimulate agricultural production and facilitate the marketing of farm produce from farmers to consumers. The Marketing Board is currently being restructured.
IICA is the specialized agency for agriculture in the Inter-American system, with a mission to encourage, promote and support its 34 Member States in their efforts to achieve agricultural development and rural well-being through international technical cooperation of excellence.
Allister Glean, Specialist in Agribusiness and Value Chains of IICA.