Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Gov't seeking assistance following passage of Tropical Storm Matthew

Published:Sunday | October 2, 2016 | 10:00 AM
The GOES East satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Hurricane Matthew making its way through the eastern Caribbean.

CASTRIES:

The St Lucia government says it is seeking assistance from regional and international organisations and governments for the agricultural sector, which was battered by Tropical Storm Matthew earlier this week.

"We are going to put all our efforts into revitalising the agriculture sector as quickly as possible," Prime Minister Allen Chastanet told reporters as he toured the areas last Friday.

Officials estimate that the damage to the sector caused by the storm could be as high as 80 per cent, and Chastanet said he has already held discussions with several agencies to aid in the recovery efforts.

"The minister of agriculture and I have spoken at length about the way forward, and this government has already had discussions with the Caribbean Development Bank and some countries that have already been assisting us with agriculture.

"We have made very good inroads with the United Kingdom market and the supermarket chains there. We will also be testing out the French market in January with 3,000 boxes a week," said Chastanet.

"Obviously, this event will affect that, but we know that the demand is there and the market is there and we are working on making it happen"

Chastanet said it was imperative to get "production going as soon as possible".

"We have reached out to donor countries, the Mexicans, the Moroccans and the Taiwanese," he said, stressing that the island needs to build a more resilient and sustainable agricultural sector and operate a surplus government so it can assist itself in such situations.

"Agriculture is an immense revenue earner for this country and a lot of families depend on this income. I know that they have felt, in the past, that they are on their own, but this government will not let them down, and we are committed to the long-term development of agriculture in this country," said Chastanet.