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Creating sustainable agribusiness for St Lucia

Feb 14, 2018

By Lorena Mejicanos & Vashtie Dookiesingh

The island of St. Lucia, located in the Windward island chain of the Caribbean, has traditionally depended heavily on bananas production as a driver of exports and GDP. However, the combination of loss of access to preferential EU markets and an accelerated impact of climate change, specifically increased temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns, has resulted in a significant decline in the island’s agricultural sector and fish catch, negatively impacting both livelihoods of rural populations and heightening exposure to food security issues. To enhance the productivity and sustainability of livelihoods in local agro production, particularly in the context of climate change, two parallel but inter-related changes are needed. First, as illustrated by a recent study, there is a need for training and technical support for producers in the adoption of more climate resilient technologies and practices to increase both productivity and quality of output. Second, as demonstrated in the Caribbean region, small scale producers that dominate the regional agricultural sector require an incentive in the form of greater access to higher value markets if they are to invest time and finances in the adoption of new ways of farming.

In this context, the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) member of the IDB Group and the IDB Climate change Division joined forces with the Laborie Co-operative Credit Union (LCCU) on a project that will help farmers and fishers in the southern region of St.Lucia to transition from fishing and farming to agri-business operations while improving their resilience to climate change. The project is known locally as SABLE (Sustainable Agribusiness for Laborie and Environs) and it is the first project prepared by the IDB for the eastern Caribbean country of Saint Lucia. This is a concrete collaboration between the IDB´s and Caribbean Development Bank based on a memorandum of understanding signed in 2017, in which both institutions renewed their commitment to collaborating on projects that contribute to sustainable economic development in the region.

Specifically, this project is funded by the MIF, the Pilot Project for Climate Resilience (PPCR) and the PROADAPT program and it will:

  • Develop financial support for the adoption of climate resilient practices and technology.
  • Set up an insurance facility to provide farmers with insurance products to protect their investments and loan liabilities.
  • Enable BBFC and LFCC become viable co-operatives, capable of organizing their members to ensure that quality, pricing and quantities of produce required by the market are achieved and maintained.
  • Develop and leverage sustainable and profitable markets for producers.

At the project launch, held last week in Castries, the Prime Minister of St. Lucia pledged support for the project and congratulated the IDB/MIF and Laborie Co-operative Credit Union for structuring the first private sector led approach to expanding climate smart agricultural practices, he noted in his remarks the importance of expanding the agricultural sector’s linkages with the island’s tourism economy, particularly with planned addition of over 500 hotel rooms and a home cruise terminal in the south of the island in close proximity to the targeted farming communities.

We will be working in close collaboration with the Laborie Co-operative Credit Union LTD and hope to bring more updates as this project progresses!

«December 2018»