(By Ernesto Cooke) – Despite the ongoing eruptions at La Soufriere, agricultural exports from the Caribbean island of St Vincent and the Grenadines will not stop.
The island is on Red alert as La Soufriere volcano continues to have explosive eruptions.
The islands Agriculture Minister Saboto Caesar says there will be slow periods, but due to the hard work by Plant Quarantine officials, traders and farmers, exports will continue.
Minister Caesar says Four factors are involved.
(1) Most of the root crops are not in the Red Zone.
(2) The volumes are so high for varying commodities that we cannot consume all.
For example, if we have 20,000lbs of ginger, SVG may only consume 1000 lbs, in a population of 100,000. The balance has to be exported, the Minister stated.
3) The exporters’ group is so large and well organized that they have been in the Red Zone to salvage crops.
(4) Production in SVG is significantly diversified between crops grown above ground and below ground.
“We are a root-crop powerhouse. So we don’t have bananas to export (grown above ground), but root crops are no issue”. It goes to show that SVG is the breadbasket of the Southern Caribbean, Caesar said.
The islands Agriculture Minister said It is going to be a surgical exercise as we advance.
“We are going to cut off certain areas and ramp up production. When those zones are ready again, we ramp up production in those areas”, Ceasar Stated.
The Minister said while bananas and plantains for export will become an issue in the coming weeks, the Love Box initiative will purchase commodities for local food security.
Caesar is confident that despite all the disruptions in the food supply, with the expansive production of root crops, the Ministry of Agriculture will manage the balance between exports and local provisioning.
The islands Agriculture Minister said he understands the frustration at this current period in the country’s history; however, he urged citizens not to worry.