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Agriculture Minister Alfred Prospers has responded to claims that Saint Lucia is in a food crisis, noting that in recent weeks, people have complained about a lack of food.
“When you go to the supermarket shelves, you don’t see plantains. You don’t see bananas,” Prospere said.
But he told the programme ‘Agriculture On The Move’ that lots of dasheen are available.
“So when I hear some people say we’re in a food crisis, I am not certain that we are suffering a food crisis in Saint Lucia,” the Minister stated.
Prospere made the remarks while highlighting the government’s efforts to assist farmers in recovering from the impact of Tropical Storm Bret.
Bret destroyed over seventy-five percent of Saint Lucia’s banana and plantain crops on June 22.
The storm also impacted other areas of the agriculture sector, including livestock.
However, the Agriculture Minister recalled that during Hurricane Elsa in 2021, there was a similar situation.
“Once you do not have bananas and plantains, there would definitely be a gap,” Prospere explained.
But he was confident that by early November, the availability of bananas, plantains and other crops would return to normal.
He hoped citizens would be more patient in this regard, recognising that a natural disaster caused the situation.
The Minister observed that Bret created a significant setback for farmers.
However, the government obtained $2.4 million in farmer assistance and a thirty percent subsidy.
Prospere explained that the $2.4 million was not to compensate farmers for their losses or damage but to provide relief and help them get back into production.
He told ‘Agriculture On The Move’ that farmers have taken advantage of the relief.
“We have paid up to ninety percent of the farmers in terms of compensation for bananas and plantains and we have also done the same for vegetable farmers,” Prospere stated.
In addition, he spoke of nearly one hundred percent payout to farmers who suffered storm damage to their infrastructure or whose livestock Bret impacted.
“The only sub-sector that we are yet to begin compensating is the sea moss farmers who we know lost a lot of their sea moss material,” the Minister stated.
But he said the Ministry was awaiting National Insurance Corporation (NIC) information to put in the system to begin the payout process.