by Linda Straker
A number of farmers in Grenada has indicated that they are willing to participate in the pilot phase of an agricultural product that can become one of the next big exports through Marketing and National Importing Board (MNIB).
The management of the board has negotiated with a distributor from the USA who supplies the MNIB with apples and other fruit, to purchase the Waltham Butternut Squash during the period February to June 2018.
“We want to take this project and do it well,” said Chief Executive Office of the MNIB, Ruel Edwards, as he explained to farmers that the contract with the supplier is for the MNIB to supply 10 20-foot containers of butternut squash for the duration of the period. The shipments are to be done fortnightly.
“This is an opportunity that can result in bigger things,” he told the farmers, while explaining that there is list of products that the USA market needs, that farmers in Grenada can produce but it must be done in accordance with the Food Safety Bill and other existing agricultural protocols approved by the USA regulations.
To ensure that farmers are provided with the best seedlings, the MNIB will be coordinated with 2 nurseries and it will only be at these 2 nurseries that farmers will be able to purchase seedlings. “Germination, we realise can affect the end product and this is our way of ensuring that you are provided with quality seedlings for the farms and especially for this project,” Edwards told the farmers during the launch of the initiative last week Thursday at the National Stadium.
Using data as a guide, Edwards said that a farmer with 1 acre of butternut squash can harvest between 10,000 and 15,000 pounds. It takes a total of 85 days for butternut squash to be ready for harvesting. The MNIB will be paying the farmers EC$0.60 per pound.
Daniel Lewis of the Ministry of Agriculture said that the ministry welcomes this initiative as it provides an avenue for farmers to earn more with the decline of other sectors. “We always have to find a way for additional market,” he said while explaining that when more products are exported, the country benefits.
Advising farmers to always following the required protocols especially when they are mandatory Lewis said, “Never, never do shortcuts.”