In response to the global food crisis, Saint Lucia, a small island state in the Caribbean, has rolled out a number of government programmes to increase food security, boosting its agricultural production and minimising its reliance on imports.
And indeed, the country’s recent measures have proved timely. With inflation on the rise even within wealthy countries, it appears that the global food crisis will worsen before it improves. The conflict in Europe has also impacted inflation, having affected how commodities are produced, used and traded across the world. These changes are likely to keep food prices high until 2024, prolonging and worsening international food security.
This state of affairs has proved particularly challenging for many Small Island Developing States (SIDS) which, already on the frontline of climate change, are facing increased food insecurity due to the rising cost of imports. In response to this, Saint Lucia has increased its food production capacities in a bid to overcome its dependency on imports. Under the direction of Alfred Prospere, Saint Lucia’s Minister for Agriculture and Food Security, the government has launched several initiatives to strengthen the country’s production.
These efforts include the government’s Seven Crops project which aims to grow and strengthen supply chains in the fruit and vegetable sector. The Ministry of Agriculture reported that since the introduction of the project, the island has significantly increased production for a number of crops targeted by the programme – these include papaya, broccoli, cucumber, pumpkin, cauliflower, eggplant, corn, dragon fruit and sugar apples.
The government also improved its agriculture intelligence information systems, setting up stable markets for farmers and introducing new technologies into the agricultural sector in an effort to lower Saint Lucia's food import bill. So far, this development has led to an increase in both the quality and quantity of agricultural yields.
In addition to these measures, the government has also offered a 30% subsidy to banana crop farmers to support its export industry. In 2020, bananas were one of the country’s most profitable exports, with crops being sent to Barbados (US$302,000), Canada (US$1 412,000) and the United Kingdom ( US$2.61M).
With the global supply chain experiencing significant disruption and many agricultural commodities facing significant breaks to their supply, the government’s actions have come at an opportune moment. For many countries, global supply chain problems have led to skyrocketing prices for food commodities, a problem exacerbated by the increasing cost of agricultural commodities.
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