Saint Lucia: Representatives from farmer cooperatives around the island got an opportunity to meet with the ministers with responsibility for Agriculture and Commerce to discuss the future of cooperatives in Saint Lucia. The limelight was placed on the need for increased business and marketing functions, and the challenge of high production costs faced by farmers.
Minister for Commerce, Manufacturing, Business Development, Cooperatives, and Consumer Affairs, Emma Hippolyte, said increasing the presence of youth within cooperatives is one way to improve cooperative operations and ensure their success.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Food Security and Rural Development, Alfred Prospere, who also recently met with the stakeholders of the fisheries cooperatives, explained that cooperatives need to function as a business with the goal of creating a profit for its members. He said several benefits can be realized from farmers joining cooperatives such as decreased costs on input supplies, improved products and services, and a larger market and financial reach.
As there is a growing need to increase interest within the agriculture sector, particularly amongst youth, Minister Prospere stated that efforts to revamp and revitalize the sector will continue to be made to ensure its viability and sustainability.