Farmers and fisherfolk received food for thought at their very own 2020 budget consultation held by the Ministry of Finance.
The event, which was held at the Bain’s Higher Level, Grenville, St Andrew, saw over 130 farmers engaging in healthy back-and-forth discussion with Minister for Agriculture and Lands, Hon. Yolande Bain Horsford; Minister with responsibility for Disaster Management and Information; Senator Winston Garraway; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Elvis Morain, and Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Kendell Alexander.
The objective of the session was to facilitate the input from farmers and fishermen toward the 2020 budget, which is carded to take place in November 2019.
In setting the stage for healthy discussions, Senior Planning Officer in the Ministry of Finance, Chevanne Britton outlined some positive projections for the agriculture and fishing sectors. As she projected increases in cocoa, nutmeg, livestock, and fishing, she had this to say. “The agriculture and fishing sectors are the backbone of the rural economy. They are a major source of employment in the rural economy and they are vital for food security. We have seen an indication that the sector is growing again. We had two years – 2016 and 2017 – where we saw a contraction in the sector, but now we see that we are up in a positive direction again.”
A number of concerns were raised by the farmers and fishers present at the meeting; however, topping the list was the issue of praedial larceny and its effects on the economic production of farmers.
Minister Bain-Horsford assured the farmers that the ministry is pushing ahead with solutions to this problem while listing other initiatives it is currently engaged in. “The amendments of the Praedial Larceny Act, the reconstitution of the multi-stakeholders Praedial Larceny Body, the introduction of cameras and the erection of billboards in strategic locations throughout the state, once the hotline is established,” she said.
“The implementation of the pilot Land Bank Project will provide useful information on the availability of lands. These lands will be utilised in the implementation of the Youth in Agriculture project. The reconstitution of the Pesticide Control Board, which has been mandated to look into the issue of glyphosate and recommend more environmentally friendly chemicals for use,” she continued.
Representing the Ministry of Climate Resilience and the Ministry of Fisheries, Senator Winston Garraway, encouraged the fisherfolk present to consider getting themselves insured with the COAST Parametric Insurance, especially with the presence of climate change. “It’s to ensure that in event of an impact from either a cyclone or a hurricane or with the rise in sea levels, that can impact livelihoods, that can prevent our fisherfolk from making an income to take care of their families, there is a facility available to cushion the effects, should there be another Ivan…”
“Every fisherfolk is required at this point in time to be registered and to be a part of the programme, so the Ministry of Fisheries at this point in time is doing the registration process to bring on board all our fisherfolk,” he said.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Lands was happy to engage farmers at that forum, as pertinent information shared, gave an insight as to what farmers are faced with on a daily basis, and commits to taking a stand to improve the farming industry in Grenada.
Ministry of Agriculture