St Vincent and the Grenadines are among the OECS Member States to benefit from a new era in collaborative production for regional and international trade.
A broad grouping of regional agriculture stakeholders, which include Ministers, Manufacturers, Traders, representatives from the Bureau of Standards and the OECS Commission, are working together to ensure the success of the initiative.
Minister for Agriculture in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Hon. Saboto Caesar said that while regional trade is a priority as the OECS strives to lower its food import bill, it is also important that the Member States aim to be self-sufficient.
“At all costs, we should try not to import goods which can be produced on the island – whether from the OECS or extra-regionally.”
“National Agricultural platforms need to step up and produce more. We should aim for self-sufficiency and collaborate to consolidate exports for extra-regional trade,” Minister Caesar said.
Farmers in Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines recently worked together to fulfil a shipment quota of dasheen to the United States, an order which Minister Caesar said would not have been possible without collaboration.
Since the start of the initiative, St. Vincent and the Grenadines has shipped 3,325 50lb boxes of dasheen to the United States; and Dominica, on its first shipment, successfully exported a 20ft container comprising 425 50lb boxes of dasheen.
Opportunities to increase extra-regional trade have also recently been strengthened by the B767 cargo aircraft service to St. Vincent and the Grenadines which offers 220,000 lbs of cargo space per week.
The virtual OECS Agri-Export Working group began in June of 2016 and, only one year later, has seen many achievements due to the influence and reach of the agricultural stakeholders involved, paired with the technological nature of the ongoing online meeting, which facilitates rapid action and decision making.