IICA supports post Covid-19 response to building more functional market linkages between buyers and farmers in Saint Lucia
Castries, Saint Lucia, 28 September (IICA). The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) Delegation in Saint Lucia, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Physical Planning, Natural Resources and Cooperatives (MoA), Taiwan Technical Mission in Saint Lucia (TTM) and the Saint Lucia Marketing Board (SLMB) continues to support agriculture and rural development in this country under the project entitled “Building more efficient and coordinated production and market mechanisms for stability of the domestic food system in Saint Lucia”.
The project aims to improve market efficiencies in coordination of production, access and improved ways for farmers and buyers to do business in the market.
“The focus on market coordination is about keeping prices and the supply of produce stable so that farmers can earn a good income and thus continue investing in their farms and their capacity to improve production. In this way, the rest of us can benefit from this supply of wholesome and nutritious local foods”, said Brent Theophile, IICA National Specialist in Saint Lucia.
“This is especially important for Saint Lucia where COVID-19 has created a situation of potential to over-supply since the local tourist and some export markets have shrunk. By improving how well we know what and how much to produce and who will buy it, we can help to protect private and public investments for competitively producing and supplying food.” he added.
The project is supported under the fund which was created by IICA’s Director General, Manuel Otero, earlier this year to address priority actions for responding to the impacts of COVID-19 on the agriculture sector. The project in Saint Lucia was by special request of the MoA and supports three key action areas:
- Enhancing production and market coordination between farmers and buyers.
- Supporting the operationalization of a pack house to enable structured procurement, aggregation and utilization of local produce (domestically and export).
- Strengthening institutional mechanisms for improved supply of safe and wholesome food commodities.
For the first action area, IICA is collaborating with a local youth technology company named Guru to make information on local and export markets available -in time- to buyers and farmers. The Guru Marketplace () is a free platform.
Users can create profiles, see and communicate what each other is interested in buying or selling, negotiate terms for sales and process and finalize transactions digitally. The partners are currently meeting with farmers and buyers on how to use the market information and intelligence application to simplify business operations and procurement.
The second action area focuses on supporting the SLMB in getting their Odsan Pack house operational for receiving, aggregating and distributing fresh produce to buyers. IICA is collaborating closely with the TTM who is also supporting the SLMB for operationalizing the pack house.
In the third action area the arrangements between actors in the supply chain will be strengthened to allow for better coordination in production, procurement and distribution to the market. This will be done in a way that allows the partners to be more aware of the safety and other requirements of the market and to have the necessary steps and procedures in place to do so.
To date the IICA Delegation in Saint Lucia has undertaken a number of actions with farmers and partners to inform and receive feedback on key elements related to Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) adoption on farms, distribution arrangements, and to design approaches to production and market coordination.
Brent Theophile, specialist for the IICA Delegation in Saint Lucia