The Dominica Export Import Agency (DEXIA) is encouraging the purchase and consumption of locally grown white potatoes, as the harvest season is now well underway and the produce is available for sale at DEXIA’s Roseau Pack House and retailers around the island. DEXIA’s General Manager Paula Platsko says, this call is furtherance of the support that the Agency has been offering to farmers as part of the joint White Potato Programme with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Blue and Green Economy.
“Our farmers are reaping potatoes and the harvest looks promising so far and so we are taking this opportunity to alert the public about their availability and really encouraging them to give their support to our local farmers who have really outdone themselves this season,” she remarked.
Under the Programme, DEXIA has provided support to farmers through the sale of seeds, fertilizer and agro-chemicals. DEXIA, through a donation from World University Service of Canada (WUSC), also has a 20 foot temperature-controlled container to be used for the curing of the potatoes once harvested.
“The quality of the potatoes we have been receiving so far, is of a very high standard, and I expect our consumers will be satisfied with their purchases,” says Bristol Lawrence, Head of Operations at DEXIA’s Multi-Purpose Pack Houses (MPPH) where all potatoes are received, sorted and subsequently sold to wholesalers, retailers and even restaurants and hotels who typically order large quantities.
In the past consumers have complained that local white potatoes are hard and do not have an appealing taste. Lawrence is confident that this time around, consumers will have a change of opinion for the better.
“Some of the past issues were due to poor post-harvest handling of the potatoes. To mitigate, we have done some post-harvest training with farmers in conjunction with WUSC. Additionally, we have provided them with crates and also offered to collect and cure the potatoes in our facilities to further ensure a quality product that we feel consumers will really appreciate.”
Farmer Steve Lecointe, who has been farming for the past 20 years in the heights of Coulibistrie, has already brought in his harvest to DEXIA and plans to deliver more as the season continues and his staggered crops begin to mature. He sold a first batch at the Roseau Market to great reviews.
“I brought nine (9) crates and all sold out and people were asking for more.” He remarked.
Marcel George and Lenny Aubrey are two young farmers from Calibishie who have both purchased seeds and supplied potatoes to DEXIA under the white potato programme. Both confirm positive feedback from customers with respect to their potatoes.
“Well I sold most of my potatoes to DEXIA and some in my community and all have sold out and I got good feedback about the size and the flavor. No complaints so far,” says George.
For his part, Aubrey is very encouraged by the interest in his crop and is already excitedly looking to the next season. “The feedback is great! I have no complaints and I am already ready to buy seeds for next season.”
Janice Thomas, Perishables Manager at Fine Foods Retail (owners of Fresh Market supermarket), says so far sales for the potatoes are steady and consumers have been impressed by the size and appeal of the potatoes so much that they inquire as to whether it is imported.
“I think people have a certain image in their mind of what a good quality potato looks like and many are surprised to find that the potato they are selecting that they oftentimes think is imported is actually grown here.”
She encourages consumers to purchase and taste for themselves.
“It is a really worthwhile purchase. Tasty, nutritious and local. You can’t go wrong with that.”
Steve Lecointe in his shed
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