According to Minister for Agriculture, Honourable Ezekiel Joseph, the targeted group, aged 18 to 35, will consists of the unemployed and landless individuals and mostly graduates of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College.
“We’re expecting 150 young persons to be involved in this program, thereby creating jobs, utilizing the number of prime agricultural land, that are vacant. We also see opportunities for them, with regards to credit facilities, and the Saint Lucia Development Bank is part and parcel of this project. We also see it as an opportunity to introduce new technology and diversify the agricultural base.
Minister Joseph believes that the changes taking place in the global environment requires that Saint Lucia take the necessary steps to transform its agriculture sector if Saint Lucia is to integrate into the global economy. “To do this however, requires an overall improvement in our local human resource that is engaged in this sector. We all know that agriculture remains one of government’s core strategies to promote growth and socio-economic development and the goal of the Youth Agri-Entrepreneurial Project is to foster a commercialize agri-business approach to farming,” the minister explained.
The Saint Lucian Government will make available one thousand acres of agricultural lands. Roseau, Augier, Beausejour, River Doree and the Mabouya Valley are the five key areas where this project will be implemented.
The Youth Agri-Entrepreneurial Project is funded through, a CARICOM Development Fund and is valued at 3.66 billion EC dollars. Two hundred and forty thousand dollars has already been allocated to this initiative by the Minister of Finance. In addition, the local private sector has agreed to commit 1.7 million dollars to this project.