Vincy farmers have few months to show they can meet Sandals’ produce needs

By Admin. Updated 6:45 a.m., Tuesday, January 10, 2023, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).

As internationally renowned Sandals International moves to open its Beaches branch here in St. Vincent by the end of this year, Vincentian farmers and fishers have a few months to demonstrate they can meet the hotel’s needs.

Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves said the resort at Buccament, which will be completed at the end of this year, offers our farmers, fishers, and producers a ready local market for 700,000 pounds of produce including pineapples, bananas, melons, lettuce, eggs, seafood, beer, juice, rice, flour, and bread.

“We only have a few months to demonstrate to that resort company that we can reliably satisfy this demand before Sandals would be forced to enter into contracts with foreign suppliers. Time is of the essence,” the finance minister said.

He said 2023 is an absolutely critical year in preparing our farmers and fishers to take advantage of the projected dramatic increase in tourism over the near term.

He said in anticipating these developments and being determined to create opportunities for Vincentians the government negotiated novel clauses in our contracts with both Rainforest Seafoods and Sandals International to prioritise procurement from local farmers and fishers

“However, it is up to us – our local farmers and fishers to ramp up production to meet the ballooning demand, he said.

He said this year’s budget seeks to assist farmers to meet demands.

“Budget 2023 seeks to facilitate and support this process,” he said.

He said: “The Ministry of Agriculture intends to leverage its experience with the Love Box Programme where we aggregated, sorted and distributed fresh produce from small farmers as well as investments made in this year’s food security initiative to ensure that we can support the quantity, quality and logistical networks necessary to satisfy these burgeoning markets.

He said: “The Ministry of Agriculture will work closely with operators in creating bespoke arrangements to ensure that as much as possible, hotel guests in St. Vincent and the Grenadines receive farm-to-table Vincentian agricultural produce during their stay in our country.”

In furtherance of these initiatives to supply incoming resort operators the Agricultural Census along with the Tourism Satellite Account being undertaken to provide data for Decision-making project will provide useful information for the development of our agricultural economy, he added.

“We will use this data to further capitalize on the fresh markets being created within our borders,” he said.

Cover photo: Emerald Valley Pineapples

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