Agriculture Minister DISCUSSES $11.6M SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES

Debates by Government and Opposition Parliamentarians on the Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure for the financial year ending June 30th, 2012 continued when the Parliament resumed on Tuesday.

Agriculture Minister, Hon. Matthew Walter in his presentation gave support to the supplementary appropriation of eleven million six hundred and thirty -four thousand four hundred and eighty-four dollars and three cents.

The Minister noted that this figure represents tangible evidence of Government’s prudent financial management principles.

“This amount of money represents seventy-seven percent of grant funds in contrast to twenty-two percent of local funds and one percent of loans.  In essence, we can conclude that, this manner of expenditure represents a tangible evidence of prudent financial management by this Government.”

The Agriculture Minister in responding to items under his portfolio spoke of Government’s efforts to manage the Black Sigatoka Disease.

The Minister confirmed to the House that from the period July to December 2012, a total of six hundred thousand dollars was spent on managing the dreaded disease.

“Mr. Speaker, the total budget or the expenditure for Black Sigatoka is in the amount of 286 thousand dollars.  In addition to that, Mr. Speaker, the Government of this country has ordered additional chemicals, in excess of 360 thousand dollars, so in total, we have invested in excess of 600,000 dollars in the fight against Black Sigatoka Disease.”

The Minister disclosed that Government over the past few months has been working to manage the Black Sigatoka which has been confirmed to be present in the south, central and north east regions of the island.

Minister Walter further informed the House that Black Sigatoka was recently found on plantain farms in Wesley and Concord.

The Minister called on members of the Opposition to join in the fight to eradicate the Black Sigatoka on the island.

“It is a fight.  This is why I have made that genuine call on the Opposition to join in the fight.  It’s not going to be a tug of war, it’s not going to be done in a divided manner but in a concerted manner that all hands must be on deck to be able to fight Black Sigatoka in this country because if we do not do it collectively it is evident that it will severely damage the agricultural sector in this country.”

The Minister also spoke of Government’s efforts to contain the Citrus Greening Disease now affecting citrus trees on the island.  He disclosed the Ministry’s decision to cut affected plants.

The Minister also told the House that the citrus propagation facility at the Botanic
Gardens has been very useful in assisting farmers who need replacement citrus plants.

Minister Walter also confirmed that a total of eighteen thousand five hundred and sixty-six citrus plants have already been distributed to farmers island wide.