Agriculture Minister Ezechiel Joseph has been responding to assertions that COVID-19 has resulted in food scarcity in Saint Lucia.
Joseph said he overheard a radio announcer making the claim.
He recalled that the announcer declared that nothing was being done about agriculture.
However, the Minister did not name the individual.
According to Joseph, the radio personality also asserted that because of COVID-19 Saint Lucia needs to feed itself, while alluding to food scarcity and food shortages.
“The reality is, I don’t think Saint Lucia is suffering from food shortages,” the Minister told St Lucia Times.
“What we are talking about is high importation of foodstuffs,” he explained.
“We have to do the analysis in a very scientific way and understand what it is we are importing that is creating that high food import bill,” he said.
He said there are some things farmers cannot grow locally.
Joseph said because of this, his department decided to implement the ‘seven crop programme’.
The 3-year import substitution programme aims to decrease Saint Lucia’s food import bill through the increased production of seven crops.
They include cantaloupes, honeydew melons, lettuce, tomatoes, pineapples, watermelons, cabbages and bell peppers.
Joseph said the programme, now in its final year, has shown that Saint Lucia can reduce its food import bill.
He explained that there are certain items that Saint Lucia has to import.
“There are certain things we have no control over and we have to import,” Joseph noted.
“When people talk about a high food import bill, I would really want them to take some time and do the analysis.”
“See what it is in that bill that we can grow and what we cannot grow,” the Minister stated.
“When we look at what we can grow, the figures are very low,” Joseph disclosed.