Saint Lucia has been conducting many training sessions on non-chemical use within the agricultural sector. These have been facilitated by Agronomist, Thaddeus Constantine of the Ministry of Agriculture. Several private and public sector entities within the State have also benefitted from the technical expertise of Mr. Quint Odlum, on the installation and application of biogas digesters.
In its efforts toward regional integration and knowledge sharing, the Caribbean Aqua-Terrestrial Solutions (CATS) Programme with the support the Ministry of Agriculture of Saint Lucia, and blessing of the Ministry of Agriculture of Grenada, provided technical support and knowledge sharing to farmers and community groups of the Windward Islands.
Post-Intervention participant feedback was positive. Participants recognized the importance of reduced chemical use and of recycling their farm waste, and feedback received indicates that 80% of the participants already have had success in using farming met hods which utilize less chemicals. They also expressed great interest in using the methods instructed on their respective farms as well as sharing this information with colleagues. Though participants considered the training very enlightening and very well presented, the shared impression is that this training be held over a longer period.
During the first week of April, 2017, Messieurs Constantine and Odlum trained over 50 persons from various schools, organisations, community and farmer groups from territories of Grenada, Saint Vincent and Dominica. The participants, of which 40% were female, and approximately 50% below the age of 50 years, received theoretical and practical training in Natural Pest Control and Bio-Stimulants, using locally available plants which can be successfully utilized as substitutes to chemical pesticides and fertilisers, as well as the possible use of biogas digester systems not only to control bacterial contamination of the environment but also as a source of livelihood and sustainability within their farm systems. The biogas digester initiative comprises also a follow-up on systems installed in Grenada with support from the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).
The Mission of the Ministry of Agriculture, Saint Lucia also included assessments of and retrofits to, as possible and necessary, the four biogas digester systems installed under the CATS Programme. These systems, with the exception of one, were constructed using locally available and recycled materials, thus placing them within the financial and practical reach of the small farmers.
The CATS Programme is always pleased when beneficiaries exercise their initiative and take the support rendered the extra mile. One of the sterling successes from previous training and technical support rendered by the CATS Programme is the Penny Family. This family was an active participant in the first round of Natural Pest Control training, and also the recipient of one of the four biogas digesters installed in Grenada. Mrs. Penny, a member of the North East Farmers’ Organisation (NEFO) Farmers of Grenada, having participated also in Agroprocessing Training under the NEFO, has now ventured into agro-processing of low-chemical herbs and mauby drink under product brand Pankwai Gardens using raw materials from her garden, which she prides on keeping as chemical free as possible by using knowledge garnered from the training sessions under the CATS Programme. The family also had available its unique brew of fermented fish fertilizer and several bags of compost, which it has been and will continue to use for its production.
The CATS Programme looks forward to such continued success stories extends its thanks to all who participated in and facilitated this component of its technical cooperation and looks forward to supporting such future initiatives.