The monthly meeting of the Economic Development Committee was held on Thursday, 11 January 2018.
The following is a summary of the main items discussed:
Enterprise St Helena (ESH) delivered a report for the month of November. Key highlights included a visit by two South African vine growers to assess the potential for developing a viticulture sector. Both are connected with the wine making industry and were enthused by the potential of the Island to support the growth of high quality grapes for wine production. Discussions are ongoing with SHG to explore feasibility further and secure investment from established wine producers in South Africa.
Work to progress the Investor Strategy is underway with Elected Members and other key stakeholders being briefed on proposals to enhance the business investment environment.
In terms of promoting St Helena as a destination, there are 27 tour operators selling packages to St Helena with an additional 30 operators in discussions with the Tourist Office.
ANRD provided an update on the Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreak in South Africa and reported that as suspected the outbreak has proven difficult to control and has spread to multiple premises including in the Western Cape. The last outbreak in commercial poultry was on 18 October 2017, and the Senior Veterinary Officer advised that if no further outbreaks have occurred by 18 January 2018, her suggestion would be to lift the ban as soon as possible for all bird products, except those from ostriches. This may include restrictions such as purchasing products from accredited export premises as previously discussed and rejected by the Resilience Forum meeting held at the end of June 2017.
Consultations on the revised Sustainable Economic Development Plan (SEDP) have been conducted in Half Tree Hollow, St Paul's and Blue Hill. A discussion also took place at the Chamber of Commerce meetings. Consultations are yet to be concluded in Longwood, Sandy Bay, Jamestown, Rupert's and Levelwood.
Some common issues included:
Land: access to land is difficult, there is a need for the SEDP to help release land more quickly for the sectors identified
Invasives: such as moths & rabbits are a big problem to agriculture and honey.
Importing vegetables: we should be encouraging, if not legislating, towards the reduction of vegetable imports where there is local supply
Growing new vegetables: there should be someone to ask for advice on growing new vegetables. Although finance would be available from ESH, writing a business case is a barrier
Communication: farmers feel there should be improved communication with SHG and would like to receive more farm visits in order to talk about issues. They are often asked how many vegetables they will harvest � they know how much they planted but harvests depends upon yield, disease and invasives
Timber: many were interested in potential uses, treatment of wood and forestry planning � the need to look long-term and plant high value species
Tourism: much more could be done to improve the tourism offering; we should employ many more 'blue heritage' plaques and history information signs especially in regards to slavery, star mapping and local history as well as Napoleon. The buildings within Jamestown should be smartened up and painted bright colours. There should be a weekly Jamestown tour available and even re-enactment shows
SHG procurement: should 'buy local' as much as feasible, but also use cost/quantity surveyors to ensure that they are getting the best value for money from local providers
A full report will be provided after the consultation period has closed.
A review of SAMS Service Level Agreements was also discussed at the meeting and a separate press release will follow.
Source: St Helena Government