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CASTRIES – A mango biodiversity project is underway in several Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.
The project is a highly participatory exercise which involves the planting of mango trees in areas prone to erosion.
In Saint Lucia, an estimated 6 000 mango plants will be planted across the island because the deep root system will be extremely effective in holding the soil together, thus preventing erosion and stabilsing the soil.
Nicole La Force-Haynes, Environmental Education Officer in the Department of Forestry, said the project catered mainly to farmers.
“The majority of it is on private lands, so there is interface with the farmers, showing them how agro forestry could be to their benefit. Not only will it protect their soil so that their great grand- children will have soil to farm on, but they could reap economic benefits as well. The Forestry Department has been interacting with farmers and the plants are already being propagated in nurseries, so not long from now they will be planted.”
Haynes said the mango biodiversity project would not focus on a specific type of mango. She also spoke of the sustainable livelihood that could be derived from mangoes.
“One of the things we have planned is to have a series of workshops where farmers, as well agro processors, are invited to the workshops to show them how further value can be added to the mango. We know a lot can be done with the mango, like pickled mango, jelly, jam, juice, and we know that our unemployment is very high, so this is another avenue where young people can be empowered.”
The Ministry of Agriculture is working on niche markets to spur further employment. (SLGIS)