Taiwan helps St Lucia banana farmers gain access to international market

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CASTRIES, St Lucia — The Taiwan Technical Mission (ICDF) Wednesday handed over some 38 packhouses to local banana farmers in Saint Lucia. The facilities which have been under construction during the past month with funds from the ICDF is part of a post tropical storm Kirk program designed to ensure that more banana farmers obtain Global GAP certification thereby gain access to the international banana market.

In a short ceremony held at Troumasse Micoud to hand over the first 15 of the 38 pack houses to farmers, Mario Cheng, head of the ICDF, said his government was pleased to assist the Banana Productivity Project of the ministry of agriculture and by extension local banana farmers to obtain Global GAP certification. With certification, he said it means that more local farmers can now sell their fruits on the international market. He urged the farmers to continue to produce good quality fruits and apply good agricultural practices at all times.

In attendance at the ceremony was technical expert Johnston Wu and staff of the Banana Productivity Improvement Project (BPIP).

Meanwhile, the staff of the BPIP is now equipped to conduct on-the-spot assessment of soils thanks to the financial support of the ICDF. On Friday the mission donated some eight soil testing kits and augers to the BPIP.

The supply of these kits means that local banana farmers no longer must send soil samples to a laboratory to determine the nutrient and pH (acidity) status of their soil. The BPIP officers are now equipped to conduct these tests on the farm and relay the results to the farmer immediately.

In accepting the kits from Cheng, BPIP project manager Kerde Severin thanked the Taiwanese government for its contribution to not only the banana industry but to the agricultural sector in general. He assured Cheng that the kits will be put into good use and will help local farmers improve productivity now that they no longer must wait for long periods of time for results from a lab. It means that corrective measures to address soil deficiencies on farms can now be done swiftly and with haste.

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