Consolidated Foods Limited continues to encourage farmers to get back into the production of roots and tubers in support of national initiatives to improve the island’s food and nutrition security.
This is intended to reverse a noticeable decline in production and a growing reliance on food imports. Farmers preferred to grow fast yielding crops that can be easily harvested instead of those growing in the ground.
Roots and tubers are vegetable crops and in St. Lucia the list includes sweet potatoes, yams, cassava, dasheen, banja, carrots, onions, radishes, ginger, cush cush and turmeric just to name a few.
The challenge with these crops, according to Perishables Manager of Consolidated Foods Ltd, Dunstan Demille, is that they require a great deal of effort and time to grow.
Over the past months Consolidated Foods Limited has been engaging local farmers and agricultural agencies with the hope of getting farmers back into production or existing farmers to increase production.
The CFL’s Roots & Tubers Programme is a partnership between CFL, Renwick & Company Ltd., the Caribbean Agriculture and Research and Development Institute and the Ministry of Agriculture.
The Ministry provides incentives to local farmers to help them increase their yield of root and tuber crops in order to meet the growing market demands.
Christopher Cox, a CFL farmer from Vanard/Millet is one of the programme’s most successful participants. With a five (5) acre spread of roots and tubers including sweet potatoes, yams and sweet cassava, Cox is assisting CFL in meeting the programme objectives. According to Cox, he has shared a very long and fruitful partnership with CFL and had no difficulty agreeing to take part in the programme.
As a local farmer for over ten years, Cox believes that Agriculture presents many opportunities for job creation.
CFL’s Roots and Tubers Programme is one of the many initiatives executed by CFL to cultivate and strengthen the island’s agricultural sector whilst reducing the nation’s food import bill.
Similar initiatives include the company’s support for Agriculture in both Primary and Secondary Schools through the (HOOPS) programme and the Farmer’s Loans Programme, both of which are ongoing.