The monthly meeting of the Economic Development Committee took place on Thursday, 25 April 2019, and the following is a summary of the main items discussed:

Health Promotion & Social Marketing Lead, Dr Angela Jackson-Morris, presented information about the work with merchants to enhance supply of alternatives to sugar-sweetened drinks and to inform and encourage community members about the healthier options. The initiative in 2018 with several of the larger drinks importing merchants showed a substantial growth in sugar-free drinks options and reduction in sugar-sweetened ones. The merchants have seen strong sales and now the issue is to manage consistent supply of the range of options the community wants to buy.

Chief Government Economist, Nicole Shamier, described how this initiative of the Health Promotion Strategic Framework worked alongside the Duty increase on sugar-sweetened drinks from April 2018 and that the data suggests the combined effect was successful in encouraging a shift to healthier ‘no-sugar’ drinks options.

Nicole added that the Duty on fruit juice was also applied from April 2018 and the health initiative data on sales of drinks suggest that the Duty measure was effective in reducing sales and consumption of fruit juice, which is high in natural fruit sugar (fructose) and has similar poor effects for health.

It was recognised that further information for the community to help them make healthy drinks choices was important, and an even greater priority is enhancing the supply of alternative drinks. Committee members discussed the commercial opportunities for caterers and merchants to expand the range of healthier drinks, ideally locally made, to cater for demand.

The Committee agreed to take forward legislation to protect St Helena’s coffee. This follows a request from coffee producers who have been producing this Green-tipped Bourbon Yemeni Arabica strain of coffee for the last 25 years and who have asked SHG to consider a new policy to protect its valuable pedigree for local consumption, but particularly for export through prohibiting import of all coffee plant material and to have this ban supported in law.   It was agreed that this policy request was justifiable, in support of local coffee production and this is a risk adverse measure to avoid potential future issues, as opposed to existing issues.  It was agreed that the Customs (export and Import Control) Regulations 1988 should be amended to support the prohibition.  Additionally, it was agreed that subject to funding being available, research into the DNA of the St Helena Coffee plant should be undertaken to understand whether the plant itself contributes to the uniqueness of the coffee, alongside growing conditions. On provision of the evidence, this policy should then be reviewed as necessary.

Enterprise St Helena (ESH) delivered a report for the month of February. Five grant applications were received and approved during the month.  The on-Island Shot-firing Training took place in February in partnership with the Environment & Natural Resources Directorate and the St Helena Community College where five Shot Firers and one Supervisor were licensed or relicensed depending on their previous certification.

February saw no new international tour operators selling St Helena.  During February, the Tourism Team with a private sector member attended the consumer show ‘Destinations’ in London. The Director of Tourism and Governor Lisa also attended the Napoleonic Wine Exhibition in Cape Town.

ESH delivered a report for the month of March. Two grant applications were approved during the month. This brings the total number of grants supported for the year to 38 plus five producers on Crown Land and three Syndicates benefiting under the Agriculture Small Producer funding for the year.

During March, ESH hosted two delegates from the City of Johannesburg Economic Development Group and Johannesburg Tourism on a familiarisation visit.  St Helena also hosted its second annual Environment Conference but the first South Atlantic conference involving St Helena, Ascension, Tristan da Cunha and the Falklands.

March also saw a further two international tour operators selling St Helena and this brings the number to 57 of which 22 have already sent or will be sending clients shortly to the Island.  During the month, the Tourism Team also attended the ITB exhibition in Berlin. March also saw a further two businesses registered with the Tourist Office.

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3 May 2019

St Helena Government Communications Hub

Telephone: 22470