With the turning of a spade, Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality Carola Schouten and Commissioner of Agricultural and Social Affairs and Public Health Roland Wilson performed the groundbreaking for the Rendezvous Farm project on Monday, September 2.
As part of this agricultural project, financed by the Dutch government, two regular greenhouses and hydroponic greenhouse along with other infrastructure, construction will start this month. The project will provide fresh produce, including lettuce, tomatoes, sweet pepper and spinach, in the course of 2020.
Through the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) and the Regional Envelope, 1.1 million euro was made available for agriculture on Saba. The total project cost is a little over US $1.2 million. A part of the funds was used to purchase the land at Rendezvous late last year, and to draw up a plan. With the remaining funds, the greenhouses will be purchased, and the infrastructure will be built, along with a water storage facility, storage building and a small office. An area for regular farming will be part of the project which covers 6,400m2.
Commissioner Wilson said in his speech at the groundbreaking ceremony that he was very happy to have the Minister and her delegation. “When I learned that she would be visiting Saba, I decided to do the groundbreaking with her, since the funds came from her Ministry. This is an important project for the people of Saba as this will reduce the cost of fresh produce. I also want to congratulate Saba. This is your project.” The Commissioner announced that the possibility of getting the new waterpipe line up to the Rendezvous Farm in the future to ensure a steady water supply.
In her speech, Minister Schouten mentioned that it was not always easy to have a steady supply of fresh produce on an island like Saba which largely depends on the import of food. She commended Saba for this and other projects to grow fresh produce at The Garden in The Level and The Farm at Hell’s Gate. “And with the addition of the Rendezvous Farm, it will provide a steady supply to the stores and restaurants. You harvest today and it will be available right away, with no costs of transport.”
The Minister lauded the good cooperation with the Public Entity Saba to realize this project. “This is what cooperation looks like. It is what the people need: to make sure that there is good quality and affordable food. We will continue to work together for the people of Saba. Hopefully this is a good start for many more projects,” she said.
The groundbreaking ceremony was attended by Members of the Executive Council and Island Council, several government officials and representatives of the Saba Reach Foundation. Prior to the groundbreaking, the Minister and her delegation had a separate meeting with the Executive Council and with the Island Council. During these two meetings, the Minister was updated on current developments and projects, and various subjects were discussed.
Visit Fort Bay Harbor
In the early afternoon, the Minister and her delegation visited the Fort Bay Harbor where Commissioner of Infrastructure Bruce Zagers provided an update on the harbor project. A large part of this multi-million project will be funded through the Regional Envelope of the Dutch Government thrrough the Ministry of LNV.
Commissioner Zagers informed the Minister about the process of the harbor project and a meeting that is planned with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (I&W) early October regarding the location of the new/expanded harbor. The Commissioner and Island Secretary Tim Muller will attend this meeting in The Hague.