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It is hoped that the cassava industry

The Office of Private Sector Relations (OPSR) recently concluded discussions with the Vige community aimed at the revitalization of the cassava industry as part of the Strengthening Trade through Rural Investments and Development of Entrepreneurship (STRIDE) programme launched on February 3, 2010 under the component; Promoting Sustainable Livelihoods in Poverty Stricken Areas.

Located immediately north of Vieux Fort, Vige has been identified in the most recent census as one of the communities in St Lucia with high poverty levels, endemic unemployment and a declining population as residents migrate to other communities in search of a better standard of living. In light of this situation, the OPSR has incorporated Vige into the STRIDE programme, making them a priority area for development.

The overall objective of the Vige project is to stimulate increased production of competitive export products to aid the community in alleviating poverty and becoming more self sustaining. The use of cassava production has been identified for Vige due to their history of successful production in this industry.

The OPSR’s input will assist the community to improve their business skills, enabling the community to take the cassava production to a new level.

The input of new technically advanced systems for cassava planting, coupled with training and support to the youth in areas of accounting, marketing, computers and general business management skills will create the right environment for cassava production and agro processing to become a viable business capable of sustaining the community of Vige.

An additional component of the project includes the agro processing of various local produce to create market ready products such as jams, jellies, etc. which will be incorporated into the overall community programme for those who are no longer interested or capable of producing the cassava.

Commenting at the community meeting on March 17, 2010 Ms Kaygiana Toussaint, President of the Vigie Community Development Group stated that “this type of intervention is really critical for the community at this time.

“Our community is a small one with limited resources and we need help to take advantage of those resources so that we can grow and develop ourselves, our family and our community. She further stated that “we look forward to working with the OPSR and incorporating our ideas in the development of the project and are very pleased with the OPSR’s collaborative approach.”

According to the OPSR project coordinator, responsible for the Vigie Project Mr Anthony John, “The OPSR estimates that this project will stimulate growth in the community of Vige thereby contributing to: poverty reduction, the creation of a first class environment for business growth and development; enhancing the communities’ contribution to the national economy, and engaging the youth.”

He further states that “The OPSR is very excited about the opportunities for Vigie and look forward to working with the community for the benefit of all.”

The Vige project epitomizes the overall mission and objectives of the OPSR which are To assist in the creation and sustaining of a strong business environment; To facilitate the development of the requisite human resource capabilities and to provide support for enhancing business competiveness.

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