St Vincent and the Grenadines looks to fire up its hot pepper sector

The content originally appeared on: The Barnacle News

Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines- The fiery flavour of St Vincent and the Grenadine’s hot peppers will soon reach the lips of more consumers as the country seeks to ramp up its hot pepper value chain.  

From 22-23 May 2024, public and private sector stakeholders will be engaged in a Hot Pepper Value Chain Evaluation and Cost of Production Workshop. The workshop will bring together farmers, government agencies, cooperatives, as well as agro-processors, retailers, exporters, extension personnel and representatives from partner agency, Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI). Over the two days, these participants will evaluate critical areas of the hot pepper value chain, such as production, markets, mid-supply chain and climatic factors, and the binding constraints for the industry and how these can be addressed to significantly expand the industry. Presentations on climate change impacts on agriculture and regional hot pepper initiatives will be made by the Ministry and CARDI, respectively, and agro-processing company, Vincy Fresh will also make a presentation on their operations. 

The workshop will be convened by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) through a project of its Technical Cooperation Programme on Promoting Windward Islands Food Production and Trade Corridor through National and Regional Value Chain Development. The project is being implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour. The hot pepper value chain is the second value chain being developed in St Vincent and the Grenadines by FAO and the Ministry. The dasheen value chain is also being developed, with a 5-year Upgrading Strategy already under implementation. The project aims to increase the knowledge and institutional capacity of the Ministry and other value chain stakeholders in developing the hot pepper and dasheen value chains for domestic, regional and international export markets. 

During the opening ceremony of the hot pepper workshop, a special presentation will be made by the Honourable Saboto Caesar, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour, along with remarks by FAO Caribbean’s Subregional Coordinator, Dr Renata Clarke. 

Ahead of the workshop, Dr Clarke expressed the importance of achieving large-scale impact through the development of high potential agricultural value chains, such as dasheen and hot peppers. She added that the region needed to transform its agriculture landscape by addressing issues that affect supply, replacing food imports, and increasing exports of agricultural products to grow sectors, create jobs, and improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and their communities.

The hot pepper workshop, which is being complemented by a week of other activities, will be facilitated by FAO’s Trade Development Specialist, Jai Rampersad and Agribusiness Finance Specialist, Dr Omardath Maharaj. To support the development of pilot projects, the FAO team will conduct a series of meetings with key Ministry personnel, visit hot pepper farms and processors, and conduct guided survey exercises with various farmers. They will also present and submit to the Ministry, a Business Investment Profile for the dasheen sector that would aid farmers in understanding the financial viability of production and assist them in accessing credit facilities.  

Coming out of the workshop will be a 5-year Hot Pepper Value Chain Upgrading Strategy, developed by the public and private sector stakeholders, that will later be reviewed and validated by them. A National Value Chain Team, comprising these stakeholders, will also be formed and this team will later lead the implementation process of the strategy aimed at building a resilient and competitive hot pepper value chain.