Youth in agriculture entrepeneurs win big at national business awards
Castries, St. Lucia. Two young entrepreneurs won several awards that recognize their entrepreneurial acumen at the annual Saint Lucia Business Awards, demonstrating that the youth are innovating and capable of value-creating in the agricultural milieu. Both, were supported on their projects by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA).
Jameson Alphonse, owner of Green Haven Fresh Farm located in Bois D’Inde, an organic, integrated farm which specializes in vegetables, fresh water fishes and shrimps. Lettuce is grown in a deep-water culture aquaponics system with fishes and shrimps won the Green Award, Idea of the Year Award and the Prime Minister’s Award for Innovation. The farm consists of an aquaponic system supported by an 80,000 gallons rainwater harvesting system, three greenhouses and an open field production.
The aquaponic system is built over the rainwater storage area and comprises of 10 vertical grow beds and four fish tanks built one over each other, capitalizing on space utilization while increasing production per square foot. Jameson is the Vice-President of the Saint Lucia Agricultural Forum for Youth (SLAFY) and has a stable contract with a major fresh produce buyer servicing client franchises in Saint Lucia.
Also winning the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award was Johanan Dujon of Dennery, the Managing Director of Algas Organics, which produces Algas Total Plant Tonic – a Sargassum seaweed-based plant tonic.
An independent study found that Algas Total Plant Tonic outperformed several commercial fertilizer brands in important areas related to root development and resistance to pests, and was recognized as a booster of plant functionality aiding resilience to adverse weather. The Algas Total Plant Tonic is on shelves around the country including community agricultural input stores as well as major hardware and home-and-garden retailers.
Alphonse and Dujon received support from IICA in access to finance, development of strategic partnerships, governance, technical guidance in implementation, business management advice, and support in procuring key inputs for these two enterprises. Both winners were also beneficiaries of support under the 10th EDF Agriculture Policy Programme (APP) and the Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary Measures (SPS) Project implemented by IICA. They acknowledged the Institute’s guidance, as well as the support of SLAFY to youth entrepreneurs in agriculture.
“This experience points out the importance of targeted interventions supporting greater youth entrepreneurship and participation in agriculture as a viable and successful path to owning one’s own business and having greater personal and professional freedom and reward,” said the IICA’s national specialist in St. Lucia, Brent Theophile.
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