On the occasion of the World Biodiversity Day on May 22nd, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) hosted a fair on Morne Fortune, Castries, and invited various organisations from all over Saint Lucia to create awareness and consciousness about the importance of local and global biodiversity.
Under the theme "Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health", almost twenty exhibitors showed their projects and products and how biodiversity affects their work. The Caribbean Aqua-Terrestrial Solutions (CATS) programme was also present at the fair along with two of its partners, namely the Fond St. Jacques-based agro processing groups Jacq-Co Valley Products Ltd. and Rain Forest Foods. These two women-only groups have been working together with the CATS programme almost since its inauguration in 2013, and the development of their business has been followed and supported by CATS ever since.
Due to the nature of the businesses, the agro-processing groups depend on a healthy biodiversity and environment. Both groups were able to create products which figuratively "hit a nerve".
Jacq-Co Valley Products Ltd. produces very tasty popsicles from seasonal fruits that are sourced entirely from the Fond St. Jacques area. Amongst them are flavourful creations such as Mango-Ginger, Golden Apple-Pineapple, Cherry-Passionfruit, Avocado and many more. Customers can't get enough of their products, which became clear again today: almost 200 popsicles were sold in under two hours. Without a healthy environment and a great biodiversity, consisting of a huge variety of different fruits, plants, vegetables, this business would not be able to operate.
Rain Forest Foods found its niche in the production of healthy, locally produced granolas. The variety ranges from oats granola to almost exotic sweet potato granola and breadfruit granola. The group also produces dried fruits, which are a healthy snack for the little appetite. Almost all the ingredients are sourced locally in the Fond St. Jacques area and wider Soufriere Watershed. Only the oats have to be imported, since they are not cultivated in Saint Lucia. Here again, the business would not work without a healthy biodiversity: key ingredients for the unique taste of the granolas would be missing and fruits would not be available and could not be dried.
Therefore, a great and healthy biodiversity not only benefits the quality of the environment and one’s own health but also supports businesses, livelihoods and not least the economy.
The CATS Programme is taking pride in supporting these groups on their successful path and is grateful for the opportunity the OECS Commission in Saint Lucia provided.