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‘Farmers: an endangered species’

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A reader of the recent article “Farmers: an Endangered Species” issued a response in a manner which I must admit was very enlightening.

The reader is of the view that farmers may appear to be endangered today, however, applying the basic principles of supply and demand, the deduction was made that although at present the agriculture sector may not appear enticing to successive generations, this would change in the not- too-distant future.{{more}}

The basis for this proposition was that with present labour shifts into other sectors, there would certainly be reduced production and output in the agricultural sector, eventually leading to inflation in wages of agricultural workers and a general rise in prices of agricultural produce.

The conclusion was that this would make the agricultural sector a more seemingly lucrative sector for investment which would create a resultant shift in labour and investment back to the agricultural sector. This explanation appears very logical although this must not be viewed as a panacea to the problems currently encountered in the industry.

According to present trends, the future development of our nation may show more radical shifts towards tourism development in times to come. The tourism sector will prove to be extremely productive once properly managed and provided that there are no radical negative changes in the many variables operating in the Industry.

However, the necessary balance between Tourism development and agriculture growth should be ensured at all cost.

With a shift towards tourism development it is only expected that there would be a proportionate reallocation of resources, be it natural or human, or in the form of government budgeting to facilitate the projected development. Nevertheless, it should be ensured that the two sectors complement each other.

A recently held forum by the Minister of Agriculture was most interesting. It did not only highlight the need to ensure that the agriculture sector is taken to a level of sustained growth but it was clearly highlighted that this must entail the conscious effort of those acting from within.

The way forward may not necessarily be the development of any sector at the expense or neglect of the other, but finding innovative means and ways by which sectors can be integrated to the extent that they benefit from each other. In so doing the proper linkages must be established. For instance, how can we marry our developmental plans in Tourism with those in agriculture?

What has been the experience of many countries heavily dependent on tourism is that their import of agricultural produce to cater for the tourist industry is exorbitantly high. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has the wherewithal to ensure that we do not find our selves in such a situation, but we must ensure that our production is properly directed along the correct lines to cater for a newly developing market influenced by the taste of our guests. This will become even more practical with the development of an international airport leading to an increase in stay over tourists.

A combination of agro and sport tourism packages is the way forward. Current global trends show that regions experiencing negative growth in agriculture owing to certain intrinsic restraints such as geographic make up, predominantly unskilled labor in an already labor intensive sector will continue to be the causes of low production output.

We must therefore study our local circumstances carefully and charter a unique way forward.

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