Dame Pearlette Louisy officially declared the tissue lab open by cutting the ribbon as Prime Minister King and Ambassador Chou look on. PM King says this is a time to say thank you to the Taiwanese.
Saint Lucia has its very own tissue culture laboratory and the facility is expected to be one of the most modern if not the first of its kind in the sub-region. When fully operational, the Union-based tissue culture laboratory which was built with the assistance of the government of Taiwan through its embassy here in Saint Lucia, is expected to yield about 500,000 plants per year. This is expected to redound to a saving in revenue on importation of plants, particularly bananas.
Tissue culture is the process of producing a mass quantity of plants, which are identical to their mother plant, using the cells of a plant. Since good quality, healthy high yield mother plants are used, the result is the production of disease free plant material, producing excellent fruit or flowers. Many researchers see tissue culture as the future of food security.
On Wednesday the tissue culture lab was officially opened at a ceremony which was held on the grounds of the complex, at Union an area where already the Taiwanese have embarked on aquaculture and orchard projects with the Ministry of Agriculture.
Speaking on Wednesday Hubert Emmanuel, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry and Fisheries who served as master of ceremonies said that the propagation of plants at Union would be done faster and cheaper using modern technology at the lab.
In addressing the gathering Ambassador Tom Chou says that this was an historical moment. “By holding the opening ceremony for the laboratory we witness the modern agricultural technology taking root in Saint Lucia today,” he said adding “the timing is to overcome the global financial situation and to address food security.” Ambassador Chou then went on to explain the process of tissue culture stating that the goals of the facility includes mass production of orchid, banana seedlings and other profitable crops.
Besides the main laboratory, the Taiwanese are building two green houses next to the lab to be completed in October of this year. The green houses will be used to cultivate valuable seedlings and control the temperature of the environment and blossom of the orchid. The addition of the tissue culture lab, to the existing aquaculture and organic farming will make Saint Lucia a place of ultra modern farming Chou pointed out.
“Your government has an excellent vision and Taiwan has many valuable experiences in agricultural development. Together we can make Saint Lucia a better place,” he concluded.
Ezechiel Joseph, Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry and Fisheries said Wednesday that the Ministry of Agriculture welcomes the new development.
“In 2006 when this administration took office the Ministry of Agriculture embarked on an ambitious program geared toward developing the sector,” he indicated.
Joseph said that their efforts included introducing new technologies whilst at the sane time accepting the limitations and the many challenges being faced. “We need a new vision, a multi dimensional approach . . . and we need to ensure food security and food safety for our people,” Joseph said. He then outlined the advantages of tissue culture saying that the goal was to operate at a level where cash flow can sustain it. The potted plants from the lab will be sold both locally and regionally. They will include yams, bananas, pineapple, ferns, anthurium and of course orchid.
Standing at the podium Wednesday, Prime Minister Stephenson King said that he was reminded of the Gaza strip, only that this battle was for social and economic development not for turf. He also spoke of the battle between football and economic activity in the form of agriculture for the same Union turf; “and today it is the home for the aqua culture facility,” King said. He went on to say that the government was committed to social and economic development of the country and people.
After speaking about the commitment on the part of Taiwan in the areas of education, community development, infrastructural development, King said “we are seeing it today in the tremendous contribution area of agriculture.”
“And therefore I believe at this juncture it is really a moment to consider this today, this moment as the true demonstration, the true demonstration of the country not to complain, not to find reasons to march, but to find reason to demonstrate resilience, to find reason to say thank you, to find reason to say we appreciate what you have done for us, to find reason to give encouragement to our people to continue to partner with our friends and to work in an endeavour to transfer the technology that is required in this endeavour. So today, not tomorrow, is certainly the true demonstration of partnership, the true demonstration of our friends.”
The tissue culture facility was then officially opened by Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy who did the ceremonial ribbon-cutting as the prime minister, other government ministers and Taiwanese officials looked on. And then the unveiling of the commemorative plaque was done by the prime minister and the Taiwanese ambassador, which was followed by a tour of the facility.