Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Johnson Drigo, has revealed that Dominica, along with St. Vincent and other Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) countries, is seeking to enter a contract to export dasheen to markets within the United States of America.
Speaking at a government town hall meeting in Belles on Thursday evening, Drigo said that the plan is to export six 40-ft containers of dasheen fortnightly as an OECS exporting group.
“This is apart from the British market that you are now supplying, and all of the hucksters that we are supplying for Guadeloupe and Martinique and the region. In addition to that, we now have an opportunity where very soon Dominica’s quota may be leading to produce at least three 40-ft containers of dasheen at least fortnightly to be sent not to the market we are accustomed to but to the sent to the United States market through a joint OECS venture,” he said.
He said the government of Dominica is willing to assist farmers in this initiative.
“The Prime Minister has already made it clear that the government will support this initiative,” he said.
Drigo urged all dasheen farmers to register with their extension officers and DEXIA in order to get the proper figures and data.
“We want to know exactly all of the dasheen farmers we have on the island, we want to know exactly what you have in your plantation presently, we want to know your capacity for expansion,” he said.
He stated that this registration is necessary to avoid any loss of markets as have happened in the past, and the level of production must be kicked up a notch to supply the new market.
“My dear people, we have lost too many markets in the past, where persons come and we establish markets, we supply them for a month or two, and after a month or two we cannot supply. If we are going to supply at least three to four 40-foot containers of dasheen fortnightly, we have to have production,” he said.
According to him, farmers must be organized in working for these specific markets, especially farmers from the village of Belles.
“Now for you in Belles, all of the markets that you are currently supplying, they are important for the export market. We will be asking you to do additional acreage to meet these new markets that we are referring to,” he remarked.
Drigo solicited the farmers of Belles and other areas of the country to get ready and registered in light of this potential market.