Above: a banana plant (CJ Photo)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
St Lucia’s agriculture sector has faced a series of challenges in recent years, chiefly the Black Sigatoka banana disease — but it has managed to show improvement, according to Agriculture Minister Moses Jn Baptiste.
The Minister, who was speaking during the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure For 2013/2014, said all agricultural sectors in St Lucia had improved with the exception of egg production.
The crucial banana sector, which, like several of the country’s neighbours, has had to deal with the affliction of black sigatoka, actually saw an increase of 85 percent last year.
St Lucia has been working on initiatives to combat the disease, including one involving a $700,000 donation from the government of Taiwan.
And the Black Sigatoka fight will continue, he said.
“With the allocation of estimates we are going to do something new apart from re-organizing our Black Sigatoka Management Unit,” Baptiste said. “We are going to ensure that we follow the advice of the scientists and we are going to ensure that we have a programme that is tailored to our situation in Saint Lucia because the fight against diseases like black Sigatoka sometimes is country specific.”
Overall, agriculture revenue increased by 8 percent, he said, for a total of $7.95 million USD.
St Lucia has allocated $2.18 million for a large-scale “agricultural transformation programme” aimed at diversifying the country’s economy.
Agriculture has increasingly been on the minds of Caribbean governments in a region facing a growing threat of food insecurity.