ECTAD CARIBBEAN – “We should be able to resume normal production in the coming weeks”
The Eastern Caribbean Trading Agriculture and Development Organisation (ECTAD CARIBBEAN) says that it is working to support farmers through these difficult times (Fresh Plaza, 11 May). In the Caribbean, protocols have been put in place to help prevent the spread of the virus. But in St Vincent and the Grenadines, where ECTAD CARIBBEAN’s Chief Coordinator Jethro Greene is located, there hasn’t been a total lockdown. He says: “Our farmers are wearing masks and we have extra sanitary procedures in place. We should be able to resume normal production in the next couple of weeks. Right now, we have had shipment issues in the past five to six weeks and there has been some product spoilage because of this. This is in the local markets because people are coming to the markets less often, but also with our exports because there have been some border closures. Fortunately, the European countries haven’t closed their borders to trade so when we can get back up and running, we should be able to recover quickly.”
Greene says that ECTAD CARIBBEAN is mobilising resources and support to supply farmers with basic materials such as seeds and plant nutrients. “We have had both spoilage and underdevelopment of crops, unfortunately. But one of our main focuses is to encourage all people, not just farm families, in the country to start growing more vegetables. We have set up a program for this and believe it’s very important not just for increased overall nutrition but also because it will introduce children to agriculture and teach them to appreciate it. Then maybe in the future they will help expand our agricultural output.”
The nontraditional crop farmers in the Caribbean work mostly with roots and tubers such as dasheen/taro, yams, sweet potatoes, eddoes, ginger and turmeric, and the largest export markets are located in England, the Netherlands, USA and France, as well as supplying the local Caribbean markets.
ECTAD CARIBBEAN is an organisation of small farmers, launched in St Vincent and the Grenadines in 1995, with branches in Suriname and Guyana. It works with farmer organisation partners throughout the Caribbean.