Roseau, Dominica – February 6, 2008………… Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Hon. Matthew Walter has reiterated Government’s commitment to the agricultural sector in Dominica.
The Minister gave that commitment to farmers along the West Coast during a tour of their farms recently. The Minister visited farmers at Milton, Syndicate and Grand Savanne, his third visit to farmers’ holdings in different parts of the country since his appointment as Minister for Agriculture in October, 2007.
At a Town Hall Meeting in Coulibistrie at the end of the farm visits, Hon. Matthew Walter outlined the significant financial resources being invested in the sector.
· The sum of $8 million has been provided for relief payments in the agricultural sector, including the banana sub-sector since the passage of Hurricane Dean
· $1.8 million has been invested in providing inputs to farmers
· $900,000 to be invested in the rehabilitation of livestock industry
· $535,000 to be invested in rehabilitation of vegetable production
· $165,000 earmarked for the rehabilitation of plantains
· $126,500 earmarked for rehabilitation of root crops
· $300,000 earmarked for rehabilitation of eco-tourism sites and facilities
Investments for further development of the sector include:
· $1.3 million to be invested in the fisheries sub-sector
· $2.5 million earmarked for horticultural sector
· $527,500 for the development of the pork industry
· $427,500 approved to equip abattoir with modern pieces of equipment
· $2.5 million for the propagation of citrus
· $700,000 earmarked for the further development of the Botanic Gardens
· $400,000 for cocoa rehabilitation and processing
· Construction of six farm access roads funded under the European Union Agricultural Diversification Programme to begin soon
In his interaction with the farmers, the Minister told them that his vision “is to see your standard of living elevated”. He stated further that they should treat agriculture as a business in an era of competition.
Hon. Walter, an accomplished farmer himself stated his belief that Dominica has the potential to be the “bread basket of the Caribbean”. He also highlighted the benefits of seminars and the use of modern technologies in agriculture.
The Minister reassured the farmers of his Ministry’s efforts at securing markets for their produce. He added however that in an era of globalisation, they should place more attention on the quality of their produce and the kind of packaging material used.
On the issue of price of their produce, Hon. Walter stated that farmers needed to determine the cost of production of a particular commodity before arriving at a price.
The Minister visited the farms of Mr. Myers Gussie, Mr. Whitnel Louis, Mr. Richmond Shillingford, Mrs. Josepha Charles, Mr. Cedric Gadier, Mr. Joseph Jno. Charles and Mr. Hesford Victor.
Hon. Walter was accompanied by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture,, Mrs. Claudia Bellot, Acting Director of Agriculture, Mr. Richard Allport, Agricultural Diversification Coordinator, Mr Mark John and other senior officials from the Division of Agriculture.
The investments in the agricultural sector are being financed through resources from the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the CARICOM Petroleum Fund and European Union.
Minister Walter plans to visit farms in the south agricultural region of the island at a later date. (Ends)