New laboratories to help achieve safer and better quality produce

Hamilton was speaking at the opening ceremony for the Pesticide Residue Laboratory and the Soil Fertility Analysis Laboratory. The labs are part of a multi-million-dollar program of assistance from the Government and people of the Republic of China on Taiwan, under the Vegetable, Fruit and Upland Crop Quality and Safety Improvement Project. Specifically, one lab specializes in determining the level of pesticide residue present in post harvest crops, while the other lab deals with soil fertility analysis.

The services are free to all farmers and are aimed at helping farmers market better quality foods when they are certified as safe and healthy for consumers. Because of the certification process, it provides a higher level of standard that satisfies domestic consumption as well as consumption in the tourism industry. As a result the project helps to advance local food production.

Minister Hamilton said, “The project is designed to increase the value of local production of fruits, of vegetables and of foods grown in our mountain areas. We’ll do so by employing new methodologies aimed at increasing production capabilities.”

He added, “This project has great promise for significant outcomes in productivity and quality that would contribute to the reduction of health risks.

ROC-Tech-and-FarmersHe explained that the Federal Government and the Nevis Island Administration (Similar labs are to operate on Nevis) welcome the project for several important reasons. He identified these as helping farmers to better understand the soil nutrient levels on their farms and to use that knowledge in the regulation of added nutrients to improve quality of output while reducing consumption risks. 

He contends that the project brings greater procedure for farmers to achieve pesticide safety, while enhancing marketability, locally and overseas, through greater confidence in the quality of foods grown locally.

Taiwan’s Ambassador Chiou Gow-Wei said the Vegetable, Fruit and Upland Crop Quality and Safety Improvement Project is the first of its kind in the Caribbean. He said the new project will increase production and enhance food security, by reducing the use of pesticides and increasing yields of food crops.

He indicated that the project will help to enhance the trust between farmers and consumers, provide a training platform for farmers through workshops and seminars, particularly about plant pests and diseases.

The ambassador presented Minister Hamilton with a cheque to assist with the laboratory operations. Gow-Wei informed, also, that a new project called the Food Processing Commercial Development will shortly be signed between St. Kitts and Nevis and the Republic of China on Taiwan. The purpose of the new agreement is to enable additional assistance to the Agro-Processing Center.

According to Melvin James, the director of agriculture, the Department of Agriculture is working to create better standards in food production that leads to high levels of trust in the tourism industry, as well as with domestic consumers.

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