Massy Stores relationship with farmers a model for the region
29 August, 2017
Author: Sariah Best-Joseph

Officials at Farmers MeetingMassy Stores (SLU) Ltd. has reaffirmed its commitment to sustainable agriculture in Saint Lucia, through solid partnerships with its registered farmers. On Wednesday, August 16, 2017, the supermarket chain hosted over one hundred (100) farmers, along with key agricultural stakeholders at its Annual Registered Farmer’s Meeting.

This is one of the company’s major engagement sessions with farmers, during which they are updated by Massy officials on the successes and challenges of Massy’s Registered Farmers’ programme for the past year. The farmers are also given updates on local produce sales, customer buying patterns, market trends, new developments and focus on plans for the future. The theme for this year’s event was “Sustaining Agriculture through Committed Partnerships”.

Mr. Brent Theophile, National Technical Specialist at the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) delivered the keynote address. He told the gathering that the Massy Stores Registered Farmers programme is viewed as a model by other countries in the region. He said the programme’s success to date can be attributed to the collaborative manner in which Massy Stores and its farmers operate.

“I am especially honoured to be invited to give the key note address at today’s forum, noting that the relationship shared amongst partners here, particularly that of Massy Stores and farmers is something that many other Caribbean Islands are envious of - in those cases where they have read about the work you do and the way you do it - and are desperately eager to create in other instances.”

The meeting gave farmers the opportunity to speak directly to Massy Stores officials and partners on their experiences and present suggestions on the way forward. Mr. Martin Dorville, Managing Director of Massy Stores (SLU) Ltd noted that as the island’s largest supermarket operator and largest buyer of agricultural products, the company is very mindful of some of the challenges which farmers face including input constraints, post-harvest damage, production planning, supply issues and access to lab services.

“We have sought to address some of the challenges by moving from a purely commercial relationship to a more holistic, strategic and integrative one. The Massy Stores Farmer loans facility, support for the Ministry’s farmer certification programme, sponsorship of the IICA led Agriculture in schools programme and the recently upgraded Roots and Tubers programme are some of our interventions - and here we have had some degree of progress. However, the time has come for us to move to another level, where we can unlock the full potential of our partnerships to achieve the type of impact that could not be realized independently,” he said.

Massy Farmer wins prize from Renwick and CompanyWhen he addressed the gathering, Minister Herod Stanislaus who represented Agriculture Minister Ezechiel Joseph underscored the importance of partnerships and noted the invaluable role which Massy Stores continues to play in Agricultural development in St. Lucia.

“Partnership cannot be overemphasized, as it provides technical assistance to farmers and provides a market for produce. Massy Stores has played a key role through the Farmer Certification Programme, by providing training in good practices, food safety and incentives such as the special loyalty point system given to farmers. This has resulted in an increase in registration and certification of farmers,” he said.

The event was held at the Union Orchid Gardens Conference Room. Farmers had opportunities to win prizes and get information on some of the latest agricultural inputs available from partners such as Renwick and Company and Carasco and Sons. All attendees left the meeting with a special gift from Massy Stores

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