The Government of the Republic of China on Taiwan has pledged its assistance to help this country enhance its production of bananas.
The pledge of assistance was given by Taiwan’s Ambassador to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, His Excellency, Calvin Ho, during his address at the launch of the first phase of the Banana Revitalization Programme on Thursday, June 21st, 2018, at the Orange Hill Laboratory.
Ambassador of the Republic of China on Taiwan - His Excellency Calvin Ho
This project will focus on control methods to improve Black Sigatoka Management on a pilot area of two hundred acres ranging from Colonarie to Orange Hill. It is anticipated that it will contribute to the reduction in the incidence of Black Sigatoka on Bananas and Plantains through public awareness and on farm technical support.
In his address, Ambassador Ho said he is cognizant of the important role that the banana industry and the agricultural industry at large play in the economy of this country and was happy when he learnt about the Banana Revitalization Project. Ambassador Ho added that he is also aware of the challenges in the banana sector and noted that they will assist by sharing their experiences with the local farmers to help them overcome the difficulties that they are currently facing.
The Taiwanese Ambassador noted that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the Republic of China on Taiwan has collaborated on a number of projects since establishing diplomatic ties but the Banana Revitalization Project is the most meaningful to him because of the significance of the banana industry. “We will work together with our colleagues from the Ministry of Agriculture and with our farmer friends; together we can do something to enhance the production of the banana.”
Permanent Secretary (P.S.) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour, Raymond Ryan, said the launching of the Banana Revitalization Programme through the improvement of the Black Sigatoka Management Project will continue to augment this country’s continuing efforts to control the Black Sigatoka Disease and will find mechanisms to reduce cost to farmers and improve the quality and quantity of food produced. He said this holistic approach takes into consideration the main factor affecting the management of the disease and will seek to improve them.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture - Raymond Ryan
The Agriculture P.S. pointed out that a number of activities are included in the first phase of the project namely soil sampling, global positioning system, mapping of farms, farmer training in disease identification and management, provision of equipment and provision of fungicide to control the disease. He noted that “The Ministry continues to strive for the improvement of the livelihood of all farmers throughout Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and it is envisaged that this project will make a significant impact on the control of the Black Sigatoka.“
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour, the Hon. Saboto Caesar, also addressed the ceremony. In his remarks, the minister expressed gratitude to the Government and people of the Republic of China on Taiwan for the excellent work that they have done in agriculture in this country over the years. He said the project came after a period of consultation with the Government and people of the Republic of China on Taiwan and they noted that they wanted to put the control of the Black Sigatoka at the fore. To the banana farmers, he said, “I want to thank the farmers for not giving up and for being a part of that cadre of persons who are supportive of the enterprise. It is not easy to grapple with Black Sigatoka, it is not easy to grapple with the vagaries of climate change, especially if you are farming in areas where you do not have the irrigation support.”
Minister of Agriculture - Hon. Saboto Caesar
The Agriculture Minister encouraged the banana farmers to look at the future of agriculture in SVG from the lens of a diversified production platform. “I wish that in our analysis of where we are and where we want to go for us to appreciate that we are not looking at a single crop anymore, the days when we were relying on one crop, those days must be considered as long gone.” Minister Caesar urged the farmers to consider the issue of food security and to practice and promote a more climate change resilient type of agriculture, especially during the hurricane season.
A sum of approximately EC $1.3 million will be invested in the first phase of the Banana Revitalization Programme through the Improvement of the Black Sigatoka Management Project over a period of four years. The Project is being carried out by The Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in collaboration with the Government of the Republic of China on Taiwan.