Foundation Social Workplace Saba (FSWS) Director La-Toya Charles and Organoponics Garden’s agricultural engineer Otto Manuel Andres Ramos visited St. Eustatius Friday to negotiate the import of manure from Statia’s Agriculture Station. This has been reported by The Daily Herald. They met with Director of the Department of Agriculture, Fishery and Animal Husbandry Roberto Henson, who is keen in developing trade between the two sister islands and is also kindling similar agreements with Nevis. Spokesperson for the Dutch Government Representative’s Bureau in Saba Koen van Laar played an important role in organizing this visit. Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF) provided transportation by boat.
Saba does not have sufficient livestock to provide the manure needed to sustain its agriculture. Hanson offered Saba an initial 600 pounds of manure, both from Nevis and Statia. Statia attempts to secure the labour force to gather the manure for agriculture, as well as a market for the product. This is currently done by persons, who are ordered to perform community service. In the long-term, Statia plans to contain cattle on one piece of government property to make it easier to export a steady supply of manure to Saba.
Ramos explained that the Organoponics Garden alone would need 1,000- 1,200 pounds monthly. Regular transportation between Statia and Saba is an issue that also needs to be addressed. SCF representative Brooke Rodgers, who also was in Statia, said that in future the import of manure would have to be tested to ensure that no pests are brought to Saba. Due to the lack of equipment to conduct such testing, the manure is only to be introduced to the Organoponics Garden, which should monitor and contain such a threat. The financial sustainability of obtaining a steady supply of manure from Statia to Saba is currently being assessed. Ramos believes the cost of import would be about half of the current cost on Saba, with the manure being of better quality.
Asked if Saba could start its own animal husbandry programme, Charles stated that FSWS is willing to explore all alternatives. “For instance, because there are so many donkeys on Statia, we are looking into bringing four or five of them to the Organoponics Garden for manure, but also as animals in a petting farm for children, together with some rabbits.” Ramos said import may be extended to low-price meat and pork products from Statia. Charles pointed out that FSWS does not currently have the capacity to import stock and sell meat products, but this could be something to look into. “These are just discussion points at this time. It needs to be clarified if any import fees are to be implemented between the two public entities. “For now, no taxes were applied on the initial manure import,” she said.
The Saba delegates also met with agriculture entrepreneur Mevrille Hazel, who also owns a shop and a retail distribution network. The variety of crops and staples produced by his farm on Statia are complementary to Saba’s Organoponics Garden. The potential exchange of products between Saba and Statia was discussed. While Saba’s products are organic, Statia uses selective pesticides for greater yield. The Sabans also met with Statia’s Director of the Caribbean Netherlands Science Institute (CNSI) Johan Stapel to discuss the possibility of agricultural interns benefiting from technical assistance the institute could provide. CNSI will not be able to provide agricultural research assistance to Saba, but may cooperate with visiting researchers to the island, it was stated.