The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) is supporting the work of the OECS Commission’s Agricultural Unit to help redevelop Dominica’s food production sector which was left decimated with the passage of Hurricane Maria.
To date in excess of 130,000 seedlings have been planted in Dominica with many having been distributed to the island’s farmers.
Funding has been provided for the rapid production of seedlings by the OECS Commission’s Agriculture Unit under the IICA – Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI)’s Agricultural Rehabilitation Budget.
The support is being used for the rehabilitation of greenhouses, irrigation equipment and input for the maintenance of nurseries in Roseau and Portsmouth, which have a combined weekly distribution to farmers of around 30,000 plants a week.
Mr. Peter Dillon, Special Agricultural Advisor to the OECS Director General said the seedling re-planting scheme was established to accelerate food security for Dominica’s residents leading into the New Year, through a range of quick growing nutritious crops including cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, eggplant, string beans, sweet peppers, cucumbers, and watermelons.
“We have been distributing seedlings to commercial and ‘backyard farmers’ and supplying the Portsmouth Agricultural Station which provides food for the retirement home and hospital. We are now working to expand that distribution to other communities in Dominica to enable localized food security. The seedling project has been logistically challenging however with the support of the IICA, Commission Agricultural staff and local cropping specialists in Dominica we have collaborated to this stage where crops will be ready for harvest in the coming months. We still have a long way to go to help ensure island-wide food security, however, the lessons learned from Hurricane Maria demonstrate that a centralized coordination model enacted by the OECS Commission to elicit local and international support has proven invaluable where resources have been lacking,” said Mr. Dillon.
OECS Director General Dr. Didacus Jules thanked the IICA for their contribution to Dominica and said the Commission was looking forward to strengthening collaboration with the IICA’s new leadership under Dr. Manuel Otero to not only examine new and innovative ways to address OECS’s food security generally, but also in the face of future extreme weather events.