GIS:-In 2007, A Survey Revealed that there are Over 60,000 Mango-Bearing Trees in Saint Lucia.
A mango biodiversity project is underway in several OECS states.
The project is a highly participatory exercise which involves the planting of mango trees in areas prone to erosion.
In Saint Lucia, an estimated 6000 mango plants will be planted across the island. It has been realized that because of the deep root system of the mango tree, they are extremely effective in holding the soil together, thus preventing erosion and stabilizing the soil.
Nicole La Force-Haynes, Environmental Education Officer in the Department of Forestry said the project caters mainly to farmers.
“The majority of it is on private lands, so there is interface with the farmers, showing them how agro forestry could be to their benefit. Not only will it protect their soil so that their great grand- children will have soil to farm on, but they could reap economic benefits as well. The Forestry Department has been interacting with farmers and the plants are already being propagated in nurseries, so not long from now they will be planted.”
Mrs Haynes said the mango biodiversity project will not focus on a specific type of mango but will see the planting of a wide variety of mango plants. She also spoke of the sustainable livelihood that can be derived from mangoes.
“One of the things we have planned is to have a series of workshops where farmers as well agro processors are invited to the workshops to show them how further value can be added to the mango. We know a lot can be done with the mango, like pickled mango, jelly, jam, juice, and we know that our unemployment is very high, so this is another avenue where young people can be empowered.”
The Ministry of Agriculture is working on niche markets to spur further employment.