‘Bright future for Statia hydroponics’

ST. EUSTATIUS–A workshop led by consultant Stuart LaPlace from Agrotech in St. Kitts pointed to a bright future for self-sufficiency from locally grown produce on St. Eustatius.

Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil and using mineral nutrients in water.

A trial project for producing local vegetables such as lettuce, bell peppers and tomatoes has already been set up here by the local agriculture department LVV.

LaPlace was invited by the St. Eustatius New Challenges Foundation to provide practical advice on how to grow crops on a wider and improved scale.

His experience was deemed valuable for workshop participants. He not only shared his knowledge about hydroponic systems and the equipment required to produce the produce, he also set down a realistic business model of how to get the goods to market.

“Growing vegetables through hydroponics is nothing new. The method dates back to the 17th century,” LaPlace explained. “Over ten per cent of produce is locally cultivated in this way on St. Kitts. “Fresh is fresh” and delivery of such life-giving food on St. Kitts is eagerly awaited.”

LaPlace said that one of the most important factors in the supply chain is communication. “Buyers need to have a two-week window on when the produce is ready for distribution in the market. Without that confidence, they fall back on container supply.”

President of the St. Eustatius Business Association (STEBA) Winston Fleming agrees. “Our Association recently signed a memo of understanding with the New Challenges Foundation to facilitate self-sufficiency of locally grown hydroponic crops. We shall motivate every islander to taste and enjoy Statia produce. Their health and wealth will be sincerely enhanced.”

Bell peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, celery and green beans are just some of the crops that are planned for hydroponic cultivation. A second workshop has been scheduled for January 2017 when LaPlace will return to Statia’s shores. His mission will be to advise on what more the island can do to make hydroponics a success.

Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/62008-bright-future-for-statia-hydroponics