Agriculture Minister Hon. Matthew Walter has called on the private sector to consider investing in value added agriculture as a means of creating employment and improving the economy.
The Minister made the call during a recent town hall meeting in Bense.
Minister Walter is suggesting that prospective investors consider investing in the cocoa industry.
“We can add value and we can manufacture by-products too from many of the agricultural raw materials that we produce in Dominica.
“Many of us like chocolate but we import a large quantity of chocolate into this country but we have the raw materials. Who in the private sector can take the risk and invest in the manufacturing of chocolate and other by-products coming from the raw material cocoa?”
The Minister singled out the citrus industry as another possible option that could be considered by potential investors wishing to add value to Dominica’s agricultural produce.
“We also speak in relation to an abundance of citrus fruits wasting all over the place. We can add value to all the mangoes that we have wasting and all the oranges and grapefruits and limes. Somebody has to do it because central government cannot do it all.”
Minister Walter told the town hall meeting that central government has put in place the incentives to make such investments possible. The minister added that Government is also willing to collaborate with the private sector.
“In addition we can partner with you as a potential investor or in the form of a consortium to invest in transforming or in adding value to many of the agricultural raw materials that we have in Dominica.”
The Minister highlighted other agricultural produce which investors could add value to including ginger and dasheen.
“Sometimes there is a glut in ginger, what do we do with the excess that the country cannot consume? Dasheen for example, sometimes there is a glut in dasheen, what do we do with dasheen? Can we add value to dasheen? Can we find a market out there to market the value added dasheen?”
The Minister is convinced that this option is a practical one and if considered, will bring about a positive turn around in the economy and create much needed employment.
“When there are the mechanisms whereby we can add value, where we can manufacture the by- products from the raw material that we have, we will increase production and productivity. It is a win-win situation, it is a partnership situation where the private sector and Government must come together, understand what is needed to transform the economy so that the employment can be created, we can generate the income and also we can also respond to the many social ills that affect us in this country.”