Twenty-five Saint Lucian women recently completed training in mushroom production under a project aimed at getting them to start their own mushroom production and generate sustainable livelihoods.
The project, entitled “Where Women Bloom”, supports sustainable livelihoods for women and youth through capacity building and inclusivity in the mushroom industry. With the empowerment of women being pivotal to the local agricultural sector, the project targeted women from across Saint Lucia between 18 and 65 years old.
The project was proposed by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), in its response to a Call for Partnership Proposals under the “Assisting the Economic Empowerment of Women in Latin America and the Caribbean in the Post-Pandemic Period Technical Assistance for Women’s & Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship and Financial Inclusion in Saint Lucia” project, to the Taiwan Technical Mission (TTM) in Saint Lucia.
Practical training for the workshop was conducted by lead trainer, Mr. Alexis William, owner of Funky Fungi, which is based in Fond Assau, Babonneau, and specializes in the production and sale of a variety of mushrooms. Aside from practical training in mushroom production, the project also provided the women with a digital marketing platform to promote their products using the knowledge and skills they learned.
At a certificate presentation ceremony held at Bay Gardens Hotel on Thursday, August 10, 2023, the women received their certificates of completion and hampers comprising equipment they will need in their mushroom production.
In his remarks, His Excellency Peter Chia-yen Chen, Taiwan’s Ambassador to Saint Lucia, said that, over the past two months, the project has seen the completion of the construction of mushroom houses, and support for all the trainees with their first batch of production after training.
“We are proud to say that this project has benefited the women around the island, from Gros Islet to Vieux Fort,” he said. “From the application, training session to the preparation for building up mushroom houses, every participant has shown collaborative partnership with our team and admirable determination to yourself. These are keys to make this project bloom and make your lives flourish.”
“I wish all the participants who have benefited from this training the best of success as you embark on a journey of empowerment and lifelong learning,” Ambassador Chen added. “I would also like to assure you that the Government of Taiwan will continue to support the sustainable growth of Saint Lucia and its people from all aspects.”
Ambassador Chen thanked IICA and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food Security and Rural Development, for collaborating with the TTM on the project. He also thanked Hon. Alfred Prospere, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Food Security and Rural Development, for his leadership in promoting farmers’ benefit and continuous support of bilateral projects.
Ambassador Chen said: “The Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) shares the same goal with the Government of Saint Lucia in putting food security and climate resilience high on the agenda, and I would like to assure Hon. Minister Prospere that this support will be continued.”
On November 17, 2022, the TTM and IICA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which was witnessed by His Excellency Peter Chia-yen Chen, Taiwan’s Ambassador to Saint Lucia, and Hon. Alfred Prospere, Saint Lucia’s Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Food Security and Rural Development.
Hon. Prospere thanked Ambassador Chen for his Government’s continued support for the agriculture sector in Saint Lucia. He said the training the women received is crucial to food security, which continues to be a priority for Government.
“Initiatives that support the greater participation of women in agriculture are of great importance to the Ministry of Agriculture,” said Hon. Prospere. “The value of women’s work and their overall contribution to national wealth are typically understated and undervalued. We know the supportive function of women in the home economy is critical to food and nutrition security, youth and elderly health and well-being, as well as providing value-added functions at the home level that both improve rural households while stimulating the local economy.”
Hon. Prospere told the participants that while being involved in the agricultural sector does pose some risks, the rewards are lucrative if only they adopt innovative agricultural practices, including climate-resilient methods.
Meanwhile, Mr. Gregg Rawlins, IICA Representative for the Eastern Caribbean States, placed a high value on the project, noting that it provides the base for continuity within the agricultural sector.
“This is an extremely important project for IICA,” Rawlins said. “It is closely aligned with our vision and our priorities as an Institute. We have placed great emphasis, over the years, in empowering youth and women. We recognize these as two groups that we work very hard to support. Recognizing the need in the case of youth to generate a next generation of people who will be engaged in agriculture production, and, in the case of women, to provide alternative opportunities for women to be able to sustain themselves and their families.”
SOURCE: Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in Saint Lucia