Minister Caesar Says “Caribbean asleep on Round-Up and glyphosate issue”

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is calling on the regional public and private sector stakeholders to address the issue of Roundup and glyphosate product use in the Caribbean as a matter of urgency.

“It is not a front-burner discussion for most, and it is hard to find a justification why this is so.”

In August 2019, SVG will celebrate the first year anniversary of a ban on Touchdown, Round-Up and all glyphosate products.

“I have nothing against the producers of these products, I simply love our consumers, farmer-owners and farm workers more”, Hon. Saboto Caesar explained.

The Minister further noted that, “Food security, Food safety and Food Sovereignty are not concepts to be taken lightly, since they reach to the core of our very existence as a Caribbean people”.

In a public statement on August 24th, 2018, the Ministry of Agriculture of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, acting on the advice of the Pesticide Board, placed an immediate ban on the importation of Touchdown, Round-UP and glyphosate products.

“In many small island states around the world, farm workers apply chemicals without using the appropriate gears to protect their health, the island’s Minister of Agriculture who also serves as Minister of Labour noted. The Government of the multi-island state recently passed legislation to protect the Occupational Health and Safety of workers.

“While each Caribbean island should address this serious challenge before us, the ILO, FAO, CARICOM and the OECS Secretariat, should offer greater support to the region and sub-region, in a much needed quest to produce safer food to our consumers and working conditions for our farmers and farm workers.”

St. Vincent and the Grenadines has started the process of establishing an organic agricultural production platform, intended to bring greater returns to small farmers and a safer food source.

The island earlier this year, opened a bio-fertilizer and bio-pesticide plant with assistance from the Government and people of Taiwan. The facility has the capacity to export bio-fertilizer and bio-pesticide to the Caribbean region. This forms a part of the island’s Agri-Export Strategy Initiative.

The Minister was however optimistic, that the OECS Secretariat which continues to show a very keen interest in food production, will address the issue of glyphosate product usage during 2019 at a sub-regional level.