Banana Production Fueling Sustainable Agriculture in St. Lucia

Sustainable Agriculture in St. LuciaThe island of St. Lucia has an expansive agricultural industry with a great level of diversity, both in product and practice. Though sustainable agriculture in St. Lucia is no longer the largest revenue generator in the country, the industry still employs more than 20 percent of the population.

To better the training of those in the agricultural field, in 2014 the United Nations Development Program teamed up with the SEED Foundation, a U.S.-centered college preparatory system, to create a series of training sessions for St. Lucian farmers. The training sessions covered sustainable organic farming methodology. Farmers were taught about organic pest control, natural fertilization and how to improve the ecology of their farms to prolong their fertility.

However, despite these measures to preserve the economy surrounding sustainable agriculture in St. Lucia, the industry has taken a hit. The majority of revenue in the industry comes from banana production, which declined when the European Union introduced a new import regime. The St. Lucian Ministry of Agriculture launched an Agricultural Transformation Project in 2017. A large portion of the funds for the project are being put toward a three-year Banana Rehabilitation Project. The Agricultural Transformation Project also aims to refurbish 45 farm roads and the Fond Ausso Agro-Processing Plant, which has been in a state of disrepair for nearly six years.

In addition, a large number of banana plants have been killed by black sigatoka disease. Many banana farmers lack the technology and money to protect their crops from black sigatoka. Taiwanese farmers have had success in controlling the disease, so the Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund introduced the Banana Black Sigatoka Disease Prevention and Treatment Project in St. Lucia. The project includes initiatives to create a model to control black sigatoka and engineer new strains of disease-resistant banana plants.

With the introduction of these new practices and disease control methods, there is a good chance that sustainable agriculture in St. Lucia will rebound and start contributing more to the gross income of the nation again.

– Anna Sheps

Photo: Flickr