St. Vincent and the Grenadines
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is situated in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean, 34 km southwest of St. Lucia and 160 km west of Barbados. St. Vincent has a total land area of 390 kmē of which 11 000 ha are cultivated land and 7 000 ha under permanent crops. The island is volcanic with numerous small streams. The highest peak is the Volcano Soufriere (1234 m) in the north of the island. Soils are fertile. The population in 1997 was estimated at 114 000 inhabitants of whom 49 percent are rural. The annual growth rate was 0.87 percent from 1990 to 1997. The average population density over the islands in 1997 was 292 persons /km2.
Agriculture is an important pillar of the economy, accounting for 12.8 percent of total GDP in 1998. Banana production is a main source of export earnings, accounting for US$ 20.4 million in 1995, despite government's policy to diversify the agricultural sector. Root crops, fruits and vegetables are also gaining in importance, earning US$ 12.6 million in 1998.
The climate is tropical with average temperatures at the capital, Kingstown ranging between 18 and 32°C. Average annual rainfall ranges from 1 500 mm on the coast to 1 800 mm in the central mountains. There are two seasons - a dry season from January to May and a rainy season from June to December. The islands are situated in the hurricane zone. Though there has been no major recent hits, the country is still vulnerable to the effects of hurricanes. Surges and tidal motions caused by hurricanes have a disastrous impact on the coastline. Heavy rains that follow the storms cause erosion and landslides.
Total annual water production from all currently used water resources is 9.95 million m3, with a storage capacity of about 5 million m3. A national irrigation programme aimed at irrigating 1 600 ha is well on the way.
The Ministry of Agriculture is the policy making and executing agency for agriculture in the country. It is supported by a number of local, regional and international bodies such as the:
Land Encroachment - Prime agricultural land is rapidly being subdivided for housing
Conflicts in Land Use - squatter settlements on crown lands reserved for forestry are among the problems faced by the Authorities. Lack of political will to deal with squatter settlements exacerbates the problem.
Water Erosion - The topography of the islands is mountainous. Inappropriate cultivation and tillage practices cause sheet erosion of topsoil and gully erosion. This topsoil is carried into the sea and affects the coral reef which in turn impacts negatively on fishing.
Land reform policy - land with access roads is being made available to small farmers. For agriculture, Government plans to:
The challenge facing agricultural land at this time is to retain the land for agricultural use. Government intends to implement a land use strategy, based on the recommendation of the agricultural census results along with the Geographical Information System. These will be used to ensure optimum utilization of scarce arable lands. Since the mid 1980s, the government embarked on the land reform programme with some success. This process will continue with the implementation of the Mr. Wynne/Peter's Hope Project that will make lands available to small farmers.
The full report is available at http://www.tidco.co.tt/uwigeospatial/St%20Vincent/home.htm