Farm Worker Programme Gets A Boost – St. Lucia Times

The content originally appeared on: St. Lucia Times News

Over 100 farm workers hailing from various districts throughout Saint Lucia have been selected to conduct farm work on various farms, over the next six (6) months.

This initiative is being spearheaded by the Unleashing the Blue Economy of the Caribbean (UBEC) Project, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food Security and Rural Development, and is aimed at increasing local food production and assisting with the overall continued recovery of the agricultural sector post COVID-19.

The main objective of this activity is to provide direct assistance to farmers in the form of manual labour, in an effort to support increased quality production.

It is envisaged that the project’s recently concluded fertilizer distribution activity, which supplied 39,000 bags of fertilizer to farmers throughout Saint Lucia would result in bigger harvests for farmers.

Therefore, the increased assistance through manual labour supplied by the selected farm workers would be tremendously warranted and welcomed.

Over the past few weeks, the Ministry of Agriculture vetted several applications from individuals across the island, who had indicated their interest in the farm worker programme.

Many of the applicants had previously participated in similar programmes and as such are already equipped with the farming skills which would enable them to commence their duties on the various farms in quick time.

In the selection of the farm workers, the Ministry of Agriculture and the UBEC Project Implementation Unit (PIU) speared no effort in ensuring that farm workers were assigned to every agricultural region, thereby guaranteeing that each district benefits from the programme.

Mr. George Alcee, Crop Technical Officer of the UBEC PIU, who has been at the forefront of the planning and implementation of the farm worker program shed some light on the importance of this initiative.

“The Farm Labour Support will help overcome a major challenge which is the recruitment of reliable labour while also enhancing food and nutrition security. The unavailability of labour has led to sub-optimal production and subsequent abandonment of farms. During the period June to December, the workers will engage in on-farm activities to include land preparation, weeding, pest control, fertilizing, harvesting and packaging among other farm activities”.

On June 3rd, 2024, an Orientation Ceremony was held for the selected farm workers where they were briefed on their roles and responsibilities, code of conduct, safety guidelines to be adhered to for the use of chemicals, and the terms and conditions of their employment.

During this ceremony, Honourable Alfred Prospere, Minister with responsibility for Agriculture, Fisheries, Food Security and Rural Development underscored the importance of this initiative, especially given the need for employment opportunities for the youth within various communities.

He stressed the need for the farm workers to perform their duties diligently, as they will be contributing significantly to the overall improvement in quality production on farms throughout the island.

The Farm Worker Program will run from June to December 2024.