Agriculture

The Economic Mainstay

The Unity Labour Party Manifesto 2015
Table of Contents


Farmer

Agriculture sustains the rural economy and is still the largest single employer of labour of any of the productive sectors, outside of the state administration and public enterprises.

The overall strategic interventions of the ULP for agriculture are:

  • Stimulate private investment in the agricultural sector and encourage public-private partnerships.
  • Modernise, increase productivity, efficiency, and competitiveness in the agricultural sector.
  • Increase export market access for diversified agricultural produce.
  • Improve the legislative and institutional framework to foster commercialisation of the agricultural sector.
  • Encourage the facilitation of agricultural credit.
  • Create an effective policy formulation mechanism and improve the policy framework for agricultural development.
  • Promote the sustainable use of land, forestry and marine resources.
  • Facilitate the commercialisation of the livestock sector.
  • Expand agro-processing.
  • Increase youth involvement in agriculture, especially through agricultural training and access to land.

In the BANANA SECTOR over the past 14 ½ years, the ULP administration has massively supported the banana industry.  This massive support includes:

✔ Providing in excess  of EC $100 million in direct assistance to the industry through injection of $20 million in 2001 – 2002; the provision of subsidies on inputs from 2004 until now at an annual level in excess of $1 million; provision of monies (in excess of $25 million in the aggregate) for income support, free or half-priced fertiliser, support for rehabilitation and plant-back) and for WINFARM; assumption of all the debts of the dissolved Banana Growers’ Association, including the cost for severance payments, amounting to in excess of $15 million; and annual payments of $4.5 million for the last ten years for the Banana Services Unit, inclusive of costs to defray treatment for Black Sigatoka, Moko, and other infectious plant diseases.

✔ Reduce the food import bill and increase export to regional and international markets.

✔ Support the Fair Trade Organisation’s institutional framework.

✔ Maintain a viable arrowroot industry, especially for the farmers in the north east of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, including the refurbishing of the Owia Arrowroot Factory.

✔ Facilitate the further development of the agro-processing industry which has blossomed extensively in recent years, including local fruit juices, jams and jellies and seasonings.

✔ Create opportunities for investment in agro-tourism.

✔ Restructuring the industry twice: once in 2002 and then in 2008;

✔ Constructing the Reception and Palletisation Centre at La Croix;

✔ Overseeing all the changes in the industry, including EUREGAP certification;

✔ Commencing the European Union-financed Banana Accompanying Measures;

✔ Striving to make WINFRESH formerly WIBDECO, even more farmer-friendly, cost effective, and a ready investor in non-banana agriculture.

In its fourth term, the ULP government will:

  • Implement the Banana Production Plan within the context of the National Agricultural Plan;
     
  • Continue to subsidise agricultural inputs significantly;
     
  • Carry out an extensive repair/rebuilding programme for feeder roads through BRAGSA and the Ministry of Works;
     
  • Commercialise the Tissue Culture Lab at Orange Hill to facilitate exportation of planting material;
     
  • Implement an agri-export strategy initiative targeted at exporting agricultural commodities and fish through the Argyle International Airport;
     
  • Increase banana production by cultivating 2000 additional acres to the existing 1000 acres.  The most modern systems of production will be utilised to maximise productivity in order to restore substantial shipments to the United Kingdom and to expand regional exports;
     
  • Strengthen the Banana Services Unit and the fight against Black Sigatoka and other infectious plant diseases;
     
  • Make more resources available for banana farmers through the Farmers’ Support Company.

IN THE OTHER AREAS OF AGRICULTURE (NON-BANANA), the ULP government in its next term will:

✔ Maintain a viable arrowroot industry especially for the farmers in the north east of St. Vincent;

✔ Facilitate the further development of the agro-processing industry;

✔ Ensure the productive diversification of agriculture in the areas of root crops, fruits, vegetables, coconuts, plantains, condiments, cocoa, and coffee as elaborated in the National Agricultural Plan;

✔ Operate effectively the “Land Bank” so as to attract young, prospective farmers and other farmers into leasing lands for farming;

✔ Enhance training for farmers and farm-workers through the Agricultural Training Institute;

✔ Push aggressively the Zero Hunger Programme as outlined in the recent Parliamentary Motion;

✔ Deepen cooperation between the Taiwanese Agricultural Mission, the Ministry of Agriculture and farmers;

✔ Develop further animal husbandly and livestock production in cattle, sheep, goats, and the poultry industry;

✔ Maintain our country’s self-sufficiency in pork and expand production further;

✔ Work with ECGC to deliver quality animal feed at the lowest price possible;

✔ Ensure that the state-owned Input Warehouse Company serve farmers well with a reliable supply of quality inputs at competitive prices;

✔ Implement further the Integrated Forestry Management Plan and fully protect our forests;

✔ Make sure that non-banana agriculture gets its fair and sufficient share of low-interest loans from the Farmers’ Support Company;

✔ Improve markedly the feeder roads;

✔ Work assiduously to stamp out praedial larceny.


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