Minister of Agriculture is concerned with comments made by banana officials
In a press conference held on Monday July 12th at the Financial Centre, the Minister of Agriculture said that “The ministry is concerned,” as he addressed issues that has emerged in the agricultural sector over the past few weeks. He specifically made reference to the banana officials who have made comments stating that the Ministry of Agriculture is largely responsible for the present poor performance of the industry.
He responded by stating that any attempt to blame the minister and the Ministry of Agriculture for the continuing challenges faced by the banana farmers is mischievous and must be dispelled forcefully. He continued his address by saying that the ministry had to undergo significant changes in both crop technology and management practices and marketing arrangements.
”They purchase bananas from the Dominican republic because our farmers are increasingly resorting to other livelihood alternatives and as such can not meet the quota and only the more efficient farmers will survive,” he said.
Mr Walter said that the government of Dominica’s decision to privatize the DBMC was aimed at ensuring that the industry operated along the commercial lines in terms of the provision of inputs and credits and payments to farmers.
“Production decisions had to be made based on the ability of farmers to make a profit. However, this policy led to the government taking over $30 million worth of debt of farmers. In addition, government placed sufficient assets at the disposal of the DPPL and over $3 million worth of assets,” said Mr Walter.
He added that the market conditions have changed and to survive on these conditions especially in the European market, the banana industry should be strategic, innovative and driven by high productivity and market competitiveness. He also mentioned that the ministry has to do a lot to complete these tasks.
He said, “Focusing on easily accessible lands with the possibility for irrigation, targeting farmers who are able to consistently provide above 10 tonnes per acre per year, improving support system to farmers, vigorously pursuing more cost effective options for the purchase and supply of input and reduce risk on vulnerabilities through the development of diversified crop and life stock farm enterprise.”
He concluded his address by stateing that the Ministry of Agriculture has to carefully target farmers and farming systems that are responsible for change in the market conditions. He continued by saying that the Ministry is knowledgeable of these matters and is ready to provide the required leadership with the support of stakeholders.