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New Agriculture Minister determined to revive sector

New Agriculture Minister determined to revive sector

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Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar says he is determined to ensure that the banana industry in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is revived.{{more}}

As part of his plan for revival, Caesar, accompanied by senior officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and some members of the media, went on his first field trip on Tuesday.

The objective of the trip was to observe the progress of the “Cut Back” exercise of abandoned banana and plantain fields in Mesopotamia.

Along the journey, stops were made to fields located in the Francois Mountain, Collins, Hopewell and Evesham.

During their stops at the fields, the Minister, along with Chief Agricultural Officer Reuben Robertson, took the time to interact with farmers.

At the Francois stop, Caesar and Robertson, wearing water boots, joined field officers from the Ministry of Agriculture in cutting down an abandoned banana field.

The two chopped through the abandoned field as if it were something they did on a daily basis.

“I was definitely impressed with the visits I made yesterday in the fields. It was a success and a great opportunity to have the hands on experience in working with the cadre of persons who were there to conduct the “Cut Back” process,” Caesar told SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday.

He explained that these Tuesday visits will continue over a two to three month period.

“It is very important that the senior officials work very closely with the farmers as we work towards an initiative in the not too distant future, where we will be working with all farmers in a transformative way to advance the cause of agriculture in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he added.

It was also observed that a number of banana farmers had diverted to other means of farming because of the Black Sigatoka issue.

On those farms that were once flourishing with bananas, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Corn, Sweet Potato and other ground provisions have now taken over.

Meanwhile, some farmers have expressed that they are no longer interested in replanting their fields and are not in favor of having the abandoned fields cut down.

Addressing these two matters, the Minister said that the diversification is welcomed by his ministry and encouraged farmers who have decided to move away from banana farming to continue the good work.

Caesar is, however, encouraging those farmers who wish not to have their abandoned fields cut to “kindly cooperate with the ministry.”

According to the minister, the cutting down of the abandoned fields is necessary to help with the elimination of the Black Sigatoka disease.

One farmer, who before expressed that he had no intentions of cutting down his field, quickly changed his mind after ministry officials explained in detail how the ministry will assist.

“We all have to work together. The farmers, the ministry, along with the government and other stakeholders, in order for us to achieve our set goals for the banana industry,” Caesar said.

Tuesday’s visit was well received by the farmers visited as they all complimented the Agriculture Minister and his team for visiting them to see their day to day struggle.(AA)

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