The government will hold consultations with stakeholders in the agricultural sector
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit announced that his government plans to hold a consultation on Wednesday, March 16and which will target actors in the agricultural sector in Dominica.
He made the announcement on Monday on public radio’s DBS Talking Point program, where he was joined by Minister of Agriculture, National Food Security, Blue and Green Economy, Fidel Grant.
The consultation aims to identify measures to reduce barriers along the value chain and facilitate access to markets for locally produced products and, according to the Prime Minister, it will involve farmers, fishermen, agro- industrialists, supermarkets, restaurants, hotels, hawkers, poultry farmers. , pig farmers, cattle breeders, financial institutions, among others.
“The idea is to have a conversation. It won’t be an argument; it will be a conversation between stakeholders to discuss the current state of production and the current state of supply,” he said. “And what challenges do some of us have in selling and what challenges do those of us have in buying and what can we do to address those production and supply issues?”
Skerrit said the consultation will also aim to come to an understanding of what can be done to reduce or eliminate imports from Dominica.
He believes that agricultural products including cabbage, watermelon, cauliflower and others should not be imported and said crops such as cauliflower, cantaloupe, broccoli and peppers are targeted because many farmers do not plant them in significant quantities.
The prime minister said the plan was not to compete with existing farmers.
“We’re going to congratulate them,” Skerrit said. “And the idea is to present this proposal to them, to form a company and to be shareholders of the company.”
Skerrit said his government would provide land, greenhouses, help with planting material to get started and labor for six months.
“All you have to do is use your farming knowledge, your accounting knowledge, your business knowledge to run this business and run the farm, and your marketing knowledge to run these crops,” Skerrit urged.
He continued, “Because if we can ban the import of broccoli, cauliflower and peppers, you can see $2, 3, 4 million staying in Dominica at short notice.”
He further explained that if there are shareholders running a business and the turnover is $2 million, a small business will be considered a large business.
“You will have the opportunity to grow, so let us run a model farm so others can learn from it and run our business that way,” Skerrit said. “The more we grow and the more we consume what we grow, the less we will need to import.”
It encourages the public to consume goods produced in Dominica to help reduce the import bill.
Meanwhile, according to the Prime Minister, a special unit is to be created within the Ministry of Commerce to partner with the Dominica Export-Import Agency (DEXIA), the Hucksters Association and Invest Dominica to set up a marketing arm that can go island-to-island to talk to governments, buyers of agricultural produce, and to promote the sale of Dominica’s fresh and processed produce.
“You’re going to see a very reinforced approach to very aggressively entering regional markets by a team of people paid by the government who can come in and promote agriculture in the same way that we promote tourism around the world for the Dominica,” Skerrit said.
The consultation is scheduled to take place at Goodwill Parish Hall at 5 p.m.
Another consultation that should target young agricultural professionals will take place in the coming weeks.