St. Lucia Part of E-Agriculture Platform
Keithlin Caroo, president and Founder of Helen’s Daughters, a not for profit group in St. Lucia, helps women gain economic empowerment. Caroo stated St. Lucia has sustained agriculture. However, most of the food is brought to the island, due to tourism. Hotels spend around $10 to $15 million per year to import produce that could be locally sourced. Poverty rates in agricultural areas are over 35%.
Caroo wants tourists and the island to know St. Lucia has a good agricultural production. With 1.2 million visitors in 2018, coming to the island, the hotels could lower costs and source food locally helping with boosting the economy and the agricultural sector. The imported foods go to the hotels in a high enough percentage that sourcing food locally would be a helpful solution.
One area Caroo has found a problem for the local agricultural community is their lack of automated information. For hotels, local companies are unable to show they can meet the supply and demand the hotels have. Automation issues also bring up poor market timing and crop scheduling that can reduce or increase the number of products provided.
St. Lucia Marketing Board, SLMB, was supposed to record, promote, and distribute local produce, but closed operations. The void requires attention to help the island get on a better track with selling their produce to hotels and other local buyers. The E-agriculture platform’s design is to ensure St. Lucia can supply pineapple, watermelon, cucumber, cabbage, lettuce, tomato, sweet pepper, and pawpaw to hotels and boost the economy.
Caroo is working with St. Lucia and other Caribbean islands in the platform launch to help fill the void and take on some of the hotel sector. The key will be to develop an automated system, which would lead to crop diversification.