The crew at The Farm, with at left front, Head of the Agricultural Department Randall Johnson and directly behind him Commissioner Rolando Wilson.
SABA–Increasing local produce and securing a steady, quality food supply to Saba are important areas for the Executive and Island Council, which discussed these topics during a recent retreat.
Investments continue to be made in agriculture to promote local growing of produce and to make the island more sustainable. Efforts are made to increase productivity at The Farm. Recently, Vernon Liburd was appointed team leader at The Farm. The Rendezvous Farm is under construction. An agriculture policy is being drafted. The Island Council was very critical about the fact that these initiatives were taken without being based on a Master Plan Agriculture. Commissioner Rolando Wilson was requested to present a Masterplan Agriculture this year before the implementation of other projects.
The Public Entity Saba started a pilot late last year for an alternative fresh produce supply line to improve food security. At the start of the Corona crisis, it became clear that a supply of fresh produce cannot be guaranteed for Saba. The same happened after Hurricane Irma in 2017. Saba, but also St. Eustatius, are completely dependent on wholesalers in St. Maarten, which creates a vulnerable situation. High failure rates and a long logistics chain in combination with the small scale on which imports take place pushes prices further up. Wholesalers at intermediate hubs extend the travel time of the products, repeatedly break the refrigerated chain and repeated repacking of products causes loss of quality. An important recommendation from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency RVO study was that setting up a supply route directly from the country of origin could improve Saba’s food position. Based on these studies, Saba decided to set up a pilot for an alternative supply route directly from the place of origin/Miami. The pilot started on January 19. A first evaluation took place in April. The initial findings showed mixed results with both advantages and disadvantages. Government will do a more in-depth evaluation with the two local supermarkets that participate.
The Island Council has questioned the delay of the animals/goat project. It has been months now and the Council expressed the hope that the challenges were being resolved, and the project can move forward. The project will also allow for assistance to goat owners who want to keep their animals in a sustainable manner. The Island Council has asked if the project could also support the fishermen in their plea.