ECTAD CARIBBEAN was set up by farmer leaders in 2009 to address the problem of poverty amongst small farm families within the Caribbean and beyond. Our key focus is to guide small farmer’s groups to operate as businesses with the intention of increasing production of agricultural produce for domestic, regional and international consumption while, at the same time, having linkages to national food availability, security, tourism and the hospitality industry, nutrition and health, creating employment and contributing positively to the Gross National Domestic Product (GDP) of the multi-island state. ECTAD CARIBBEAN facilitates a partnership network within and beyond the Caribbean with focus on sharing of information, innovations and good practices. Working with small farm families in several villages in St Vincent and the Grenadines; our approach is on promoting environmentally sustainable production and sustained profitable markets for our small farm families. We have an example of some success with one crop dasheen/taro working with small farm families in several villages in St Vincent and the Grenadines. The production methods used by farmers planting mainly on the hillside is a hole system instead of a mound for planting. This method saw over 120% in crop yield over 98% reduction in hillside soil slippage. Farmers and farmer leaders are clustered into groups of their own design and provided training in production, grading, post-harvest handling packaging leading to profitable market links in the Caribbean and Europe. By eliminating the inefficiencies in the value chain they saw their price increase of between 100 and 250 %, reduction in transaction cost and more competitive prices to the final buyers.
The marketing program is managed by female farmer leaders and ongoing for several years selling over several million pounds of products they have not had claims from buyers. So satisfied are the buyers that the markets are increasing and other crops are being added. These farmer clusters are mainly headed by female farmer leaders, who coordinate sorting, grading and packaging. The clusters also have a key role in setting the prices based on market information.
We are seeing successful business small farm families we are encouraging the young people in the family to be involved with record keeping and information and forecast that will help with production and marketing. We are seeing that once the profitability is demonstrated more and more young people are showing interest in farming as a business.
When Hurricane Ivan destroyed most of Grenada’s local food production in 2004, ECTAD responded to the request of the Grenada National Marketing Cooperation and two other private sector buyers by supplying them on a weekly basis with commodities, including bananas, yams, sweet potatoes, plantain, grapefruit, lime, oranges, christophene, water coconuts and tania.
Eight of ECTAD’s village groups willingly accepted the challenge and participated in the six-month exercise. The groups were able to rise to the occasion, in a great measure, because their members had received workshop training over the previous three years in a number of areas intended to lift the capacity of small farmers and their families in group leadership/management, production planning and good agricultural practices. The training workshops were organized by ECTAD with support from CTA, Ministry of Agriculture, Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute (CARDI) other agri-institutions and primarily conducted by ECTAD volunteers.
As the Grenada agricultural sector began rapid recovery, ECTAD having been emboldened by its ability to be a constant and sustained supplier, sought and successfully negotiated with buyers in the United Kingdom, France Trinidad and Tobago and Dutch Markets. During this time, ECTAD also operates as a regional organization working with partners in several Caribbean countries and share links with farmers’ organizations across the globe.