The Ministry Of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Blue and Green Economy is continuing its mission to create a stronger relationship with the country’s farmers as the Minister and other officials from the Ministry toured part of the north agricultural region on Thursday, February 2nd 2023.

Hon. Roland Royer and the other officials visited farms in Portsmouth, Boplan, Penville and Vieille Case, speaking with livestock and crop farmers, listening to their stories and challenges as well as how the ministry of agriculture can better help them.

A town hall meeting was then held at the Vieille Case Resource Center, where farmers made their voices heard to Prime Minister, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, Hon. Roland Royer, representatives of the World Bank, DEXIA and other officials.

Agriculture Minister, Hon. Royer stated that Government understands the plight of the farmers as it relates to the pest and diseases, such as yam rust, that plague many of them.

He says the Ministry is working with CARDI to try to combat these diseases and increase white yam production with clean planting material.

“The Ministry has identified that. We already have a prescription that we use that we can call a tech-pack, but it is not a full tech-pack. And honestly, I don’t think we are getting the desired result from that but we are working closely with CARDI to do further investigations and  see how quickly we can multiply clean planting materials so we can get into white yam production. O that we have on the front burner, we know that it is an issue which has affected the supply of yam throughout the island and of curse for export so that is something we are looking to resolve very soon,” Hon. Royer stated.

The Black Sigatoka is another prevalent disease affecting many of the farmers. Hon. Royer stated that the Ministry has to review the management strategy for the Black Sigatoka, while also empowering the farmers to treat the disease themselves.

“We saw a lot of farmers affected by the Black Sigatoka. We have identified the issue. We know it’s an issue where the tech-pack is not being implemented properly. So we are reviewing the strategy for management of Black Sigatoka where we look to empower you the farmers to see how best you can do it yourselves but, of course, ensure that the supply of the material that is required like the oil and the fungicide, will be more readily available. So these we are aware of and we are putting systems in place to solve them  and to ensure that we can be more productive on the farms,” Minister Royer added.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister and Member of Parliament for the Vieille Case Constituency, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit says Government through the Ministry of Agriculture is seeking to solve some of the challenges that farmers face.

He announced that five million dollars will be given to DEXIA to buy produce from the farmers.

“And what we’re gonna be doing is to empower DEXIA by providing DEXIA with, in the first instance, five million dollars, and DEXIA should receive those funds in the next two weeks or so, to purchase produce from the farmers. So once we give DEXIA the money, then there should be a different dispensation. The pack house must publicize what it is buying, wat quantity it is buying and the price it is paying to the farmers” PM Skerrit stated.

Further assistance will also be given to DEXIA to help in the reduction of prices for fertilizer.

“We’re gonna be empowering DEXIA a little bit more with some more resources to be able to buy more fertilizer in larger quantities to be able to, in a better way, subsidize the price of fertilizer to farmers. As you know there are no taxes imposed on the price of fertilizer. So the price that you pay does not have any taxes. Government makes no taxes on it, no VAT, no import duties, no custom services charge, nothing. It is really an imported price and of course when the importers put their profit on it then it goes up to a point where many farmers are unable to buy it to the extent they need to buy to fertilize their farms,” the Prime Minister noted.

He added that Government will do all it can to work with the farmers and address their concerns.

“We’re aware of some of the issues and we are putting systems in place to address them. I believe that the Minister has the energy and he has the determination and he is coming from a practical standpoint himself, so he knows some of the real issues. He is empowered by me and he has been given the authority to do what we need to do as a Government and as a Ministry of Agriculture for the farmers of Dominica,” Prime Minister Skerrit added.

These tours are aimed at assisting farmers increase their production so that the ministry can meet its goals of contributing 700 million to the national GDP by 2030.