Hon. Saboto Caesar, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry, and Labour of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, met with various policymakers from the Cuban government to discuss bilateral agricultural and fisheries cooperation opportunities between the two Caribbean countries.
The Government of the Republic of Cuba has agreed to supply technical expertise in agriculture and fisheries to help both countries’ agriculture industries thrive. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) defining the framework for cooperation is scheduled to be drafted soon. In December 2022, President of the Republic of Cuba Miguel Mario Daz-Canel visited St Vincent and the Grenadines and explored a range of collaborative options to ensure food security and sovereignty.
Minister Caesar told the meeting that the agriculture industry in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has evolved from a monoculture (bananas) to a more diverse production platform.
He went on to say that the country’s goal is to form a Coalition for the Advancement of Agriculture in SVG (CAAS). CAAS will primarily concentrate on bringing together specialists and food production support systems from friendly countries and international agricultural organizations in order to boost the emerging diverse food production platform.
“While we can boast of successfully growing bananas for 60 years, thereby acquiring technical expertise,” the Minister said, “under normal circumstances, we have a long road to travel and a mighty long way to go in specializing in vegetable production.” However, given the urgency, we must increase production now by getting the essential knowledge.” The SVG Ministry of Agriculture plans a quick rise in vegetable output in 2023 to fulfill the increased predicted demand for veggies caused by the tourism industry’s exponential growth.
He went on to say that the Ministry of Agriculture of St Vincent and the Grenadines will be able to help the Republic of Cuba recover its banana output through tissue culture production of banana plantlets and banana technical extension support.
The Minister will also meet with cattle experts during the week. The Republic of Cuba is well-known across the world for its agricultural professionals, who have assisted many developing countries in achieving food security. The Minister’s travel to Cuba aims to further develop numerous food production concepts raised during the President’s visit to SVG.
Lee Yan is a journalist based in Cebu, Philippines. For the past 10 years, he has worked in the media and writes part-time for the St. Vincent Times.