The Marketing and National Importing Board (MNIB) and GEF/UNDP Ridge to Reef Project on Monday, 10 April 2017, officially launched a project: enhancing farmer’s potential to expand crops grown for export; specifically looking at improving soursop fields as it relates to pests and diseases. The GEF/UNDP Ridge to Reef Project is the main sponsor of this initiative which will be implemented by the MNIB.
Mr Roderick St Clair, Business Development Manager at MNIB, indicated that the project came from the voice of the farmers: “they have been calling for it because it is far more difficult and complicated to manage pests that affect fruit trees, than plants such as vegetables.” The project is therefore being implemented to help meet farmers’ need to control pests and diseases, particularly in soursop fields, in an attempt to improve the quality of products produced for both local consumption and export.
Chief Executive Officer at MNIB, Mr Ruel Edwards, mentioned that the soursop can become a rival #1 export product that competes with nutmeg, cocoa, and fish. The market opportunity for soursop already exists; therefore the initiative is expected to significantly impact livelihoods in Grenada by helping farmers produce products that meet export standards.
The project presents a total package that will benefit soursop farmers and is expected to expand to plantain and banana farms. The spraying services and soil testing will be facilitated by trained personnel, and MNIB will advise farmers how to prune through this initiative. Overall, farmers will develop their capacity to better manage fields, thereby increasing productivity as well as the quality of their produce.
The GEF/UNDP Ridge to Reef Project Office, Mr Joseph Noel, expressed his project’s willingness in supporting this initiative, as the collaboration with MNIB is expected to support farmers to ensure that their fields can meet standards to produce quality soursops.This activity helps the Ridge to Reef achieve its goal of enhancing livelihoods in Grenada. According to Mr Noel, the project will also achieve a number of the United Nations Development Programme’s 17 sustainable development goals, especially the goal of poverty alleviation, by working with the farmers.
The representatives from the GEF/UNDP Ridge to Reef Project and MNIB noted that the launch solidifies the relationship that is growing between their organisations. Mr Edwards highlighted the similarity in the objectives of both MNIB and GEF/UNDP Ridge to Reef Project, as poverty alleviation and supporting sustainable livelihoods is a priority for both entities. Members of MNIB expressed their gratitude to the GEF/UNDP Ridge to Reef Project for taking the initiative to be the main funder.
The launch took place at Mr Joy Peters’ Farm in La Sagesse, St David. MNIB is now asking soursop farmers in Grenada and Carriacou to contact its offices to register their farms to participate in the project.