BARON FOODS AND CARDI SIGN AGREE­MENT IN SUPPORT OF RE­GIONAL AGRIBUSI­NESS DE­VEL­OP­MENT

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

On Thurs­day 6th Novem­ber 2014, the Caribbean’s lead­ing agro-pro­ces­sor - Baron Foods Limited, and CARICOM based or­ga­ni­za­tion Caribbean Agri­cul­tural Re­search and De­vel­op­ment In­sti­tute (CARDI), signed a three year agree­ment to­wards achiev­ing a ro­bust and en­hanced en­gage­ment in support of food pro­duc­tion, agribusi­ness and ru­ral de­vel­op­ment in St. Lu­cia and the wider Caribbean.

The con­tract was signed by the two par­ties dur­ing a pro­duc­tion sys­tem sen­si­ti­za­tion work­shop at Baron Foods Ltd.’s head­quar­ters, lo­cated in Vieux Fort, St. Lu­cia. This sen­si­ti­za­tion work­shop also led to the for­ma­tion of a St. Lu­cia hot pep­per clus­ter group.

This spe­cial ar­range­ment was as a re­sult of months of vig­or­ous, all­round plan­ning and al­lo­cat­ing of re­sources be­tween Baron Foods and CARDI on the topic of re­vi­tal­iz­ing the re­gional hot pep­per in­dus­try and oth­ers alike. For the past week, a se­ries of field vis­its, demon­stra­tions, train­ing and work­shops with St. Lu­cian farm­ers have been hosted by CARDI and Baron Foods as a kick start to this project.

With this con­tract, Baron Foods has de­clared its com­mit­ment to­wards se­cur­ing its sup­ply chain and pro­vid­ing a mar­ket av­enue for its farm­ers, by es­tab­lish­ing a min­i­mum quota of 5,000 lbs of hot pep­pers per week.

It fur­ther goes that this quota must only in­crease, whereby Baron Foods will then seek to ex­port the sur­plus pep­per to be con­sumed by its plants in other Caribbean is­lands. Mean­while, CARDI has agreed to train farm­ers on how to in­crease their pro­duc­tiv­ity lev­els by us­ing var­i­ous best man­age­ment prac­tices and to also pro­vide farm­ers with high qual­ity pep­per seeds such as Moruga Red, Scotch Bon­net, and West Indies Red.

The agree­ment in gen­eral also aims to build the farm­ers’ morale and ef­fi­ciency.

Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor and CEO of Baron Foods Ltd., Mr. Ron­ald Ram­jat­tan OBE said,“With in­creased de­mand for value added agri-prod­ucts, it is im­per­a­tive that agro-pro­ces­sors, like Baron Foods, re­ceive a con­sis­tent, year-round sup­ply of qual­ity fresh pro­duce to sus­tain their op­er­a­tion. It is a win-win sit­u­a­tion as th­ese di­rect back­ward link­ages to the agri­cul­tural sec­tor serve as ideal paths to­wards cre­at­ing em­ploy­ment and lo­cal farm­ers gain­ing sta­ble re­turns.”

The project also em­ploys re­gional or­ga­ni­za­tion In­ter-Amer­i­can In­sti­tute for Co­op­er­a­tion on Agri­cul­ture (IICA) as well as the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture on a third party ba­sis. The two or­ga­ni­za­tions have as­sisted in cov­er­ing ad­min­is­tra­tive costs and as­sign­ing an ex­ten­sion of­fi­cer re­spec­tively, all in an ef­fort to fur­ther aug­ment the project.

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