Geo. F. Huggins, through its Foodland Supermarkets and a group of producers of local products, have come together to establish a Health and Wellness Centre aimed at promoting locally produced products through a message of healthy consumption.
With its theme of “Buy Local, Stay Healthy,” the idea is for consumers to purchase the products of the Grenada Network of Rural Women Producers, without fear of experiencing the negative effects of chemical flavouring and additives, which research has shown to be linked to some chronic and communicable diseases.
Describing the products of the group as one that focuses on health and safety of consumer, Dr Guido Marcelle said that products are of a quality that aid in positive development of the human body to facilitate positive living. “Here is a treasure waiting to be unfold to make us all better human beings,” he said at the launch of the Centre on Thursday.
Products range from fresh fruits and vegetables to confectionery, including culinary and therapeutic herbs. “The realisation of such an initiative will not only increase the competitiveness of local products, but also provide an opportunity for developing and marketing of our agriculture produce,” said Chief Agricultural Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Daniel Lewis.
“Marketing is a key component of this sector and if at the end of the day marketing falls down then everything falls down,” he said, while confirming that marketing has always proven to be a challenge for the farming community. “Yes, we encourage the planting and so on, but if at the end there is no market, then farmers will not be encouraged to develop that sector. So what is happening here today is a good initiative and can only work for improving the agriculture sector,” he said.
GRENROP comprises approximately 65 women between the ages of 18 and 79, who work directly or indirectly in the agricultural sector. Their products can be found at different outlets such as supermarkets and gift shops, but the arrangement with George F Huggins provides an avenue for a central hub where all the products can be found. Each of the women’s products will have a different label, but because they will all be available in the “GRENROP Health and Wellness” area, consumers will immediately know that the products are of the GRENROP quality.
Describing the initiative as working together in unison, Agriculture Minister Roland Bhola said that joint venture between GRENROP and Foodland Supermarket will be assisting in stabilizing the rural economy where many of the members are located. “What you are doing is providing significant foreign exchange and developing the value added chain of products we have locally,” he said.
Calling for other business to embark on similar ventures, Bhola said that when local produce is pushed and promoted the same way as imported, there is the real possibilities of more money remaining in the country. “Unless these products are not supported, then these initiatives will not go very far, so businesses need to start telling consumers to support the local industry,” he said.
Playing a significant role in the establishing the GRENROP group was the office of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture and its representative in Grenada, Mr Cosmos Joseph, saying that it was a significant day for women in agriculture in Grenada, and he was very delighted at the undertaking between the two bodies. “Today’s launch demonstrates what can be achieved within a well organised group,” he said, while explaining that its organization puts lots of efforts in using agriculture as a means of job and food security.
by Linda Straker