While St. Vincent and the Grenadines celebrates its recent UN Security Council non-permanent seat membership, investors are keeping a keen eye on the country in becoming a powerhouse producer of gluten and glyphosate free value-added food items.
The Pesticides Board of the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines made one of its most monumental decisions, when it placed a ban on the importation of RoundUp, Touchdown and all glyphosate products used in food production in August 2018.
Minister of Agriculture Hon. Saboto Caesar, noted that, “Food security, Food Safety and Food Sovereignty are three very important peas in the Agriculture pod” and that while expanding production was vital, the food must be safe to consume.
The country has made moves to also suspend aerial spraying of chemicals, a methodology for leaf spot control which saw the island being sprayed almost 10 cycles of chemicals annually when the banana industry peaked in the early 1990s. The impact on human health is yet to be ascertained.
As this 150 square miles island continues to hold the position as the breadbasket of the Southern Caribbean, several investors wish to turn the islands dasheen, tania, eddoes, cassava, bananas, plantains and arrowroot into pasta and other packaged food cereals.
This niche targetting persons suffering from celiac sprue and other gluten food allergies can further transform the already diversified agriculture sector in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
One consumer interviewed said, “people just want to be assured that they are not eating harmful foods.”
Minister Saboto Caesar at a recent press conference, to welcome a Cuban Trade Mission to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, expressed the need for a concerted effort to be made by the Caribbean region to manufacture more of our locally produced food raw material prior to export.
“This value addition will bring greater returns to all our agriculture stakeholders,” he concluded.
This opportunity once harnessed will certainly have many positive impacts. The island is ripe for such development.