Kingstown – The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAP) says food exports from St Vincent and the Grenadines increased during the first month of this year, signaling an evident recovery in the agriculture sector, following the severe impact of the La Soufriére volcano eruptions in 2021.
It said a total of 516 753 kilos of agricultural and fisheries products, valuing EC$1.3 million were sold to 13 countries in January, according to data disseminated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry, and Labour.
It said that an inter-annual comparison to January 2021 reveals that there has been a five per cent increase in the quantity of exported products and a 38 per cent increase in the value.
“The United States was the main destination for the country’s exports in 2022, which represented a value of more than 300,000 dollars. Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados followed in second and third place. The other ten export destinations were Anguilla, Bouvet Island, the British Virgin Islands, Canada, France, Great Britain, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Martin.”
In total, there were 42 types of exported agricultural and fisheries products, including tubers, vegetables, fruit, spices and lobster.
“It began with the first large eruption of La Soufriére on 9 April 2021, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines has experienced 32 other eruptions thereafter. The natural disaster forced the evacuation of some 30,000 people from their homes, most of them farmers, given that the majority of the land adjoining the volcano is used for agricultural production,” the FAO said in a statement.
It said many farmers lost crops due to the ashfall on their land, compelling the government to declare a food security emergency. The State gave economic assistance to small farmers and hired tractors to plough the land to enable crops to be sown again.
The country received the support and solidarity of organizations and governments from the Americas and other parts of the world.
Agriculture Minister Saboto Caesar recognised the importance of the support of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) to rapidly revive production and guarantee food security.
The FAO said agriculture here is largely in the hands of small, family farmers with Caesar indicating that the country has approximately 8,000 and 1,500 registered farmers and fisherfolk, respectively. (CMC)