Dominica is on its way to recovering its agricultural sector after Hurricane Maria devastated the island on Sept. 19 with Category 5 forces.
Several international organizations — the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, OECS — along with the Dominica Ministry of Agriculture are working together to revitalize the island nation’s ability to grow its own food again.
Project organizers are setting up four greenhouse stations throughout the island to plant 200,000 seedlings that include lettuce, cucumber, kale, pepper, eggplant and pumpkin, among other fast-growing vegetables. Most plants will then be distributed to farmers. The growing station in Portsmouth will provide food for a hospital and a retirement home.
The team expects most of the vegetables to be harvested in four weeks. They hope to make the food production system “self-sufficient” by late December, feeding the island’s current population of 60,000.
Project member Peter Dillon, speaking in a video on the OECS website, said that the island’s agriculture was “completely devastated.” He added that prior to the storm, Dominica grew 80 percent of its own food and had the lowest food importation rate of all 10 OECS member states. He said the project will “jump start” the agricultural economy rather than relying on international relief for food as is the case post-Maria.
Dillon went on to say that Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and the minister of agriculture, who “mandated” this initiative, have been “very, very effective in enacting this program” on the island. He added that in his experience working in post-natural disaster and war-torn areas, he hasn’t “seen a situation as bad as this one,” but that the “interventions (are going) much better than I thought.”