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Government plans to eradicate hunger in SVG

Government plans to eradicate hunger in SVG

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There are still 5,000 Vincentians who are categorized as vulnerable, because they don’t have enough food.

So said Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar, as he addressed the annual World Food Day celebrations at Heritage Square on Thursday 15.

The minister is, however, adamant that it is the plan of his ministry and the Government to eradicate hunger in St Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

“St Vincent and the Grenadines is the first English speaking Caribbean island to establish what is now known as a parliamentary front against hunger and undernourishment….We have a zero hunger plan and programme that we are in the process of implementing, because it is the policy of this government that no Vincentian must go to bed hungry.”

Caesar also told patrons at last Thursday’s celebrations that while his ministry and Government are doing their best to eradicate hunger, they cannot do it alone.

“In 2016, we are going to call for an engagement of civil society, where we are asking all civil society stakeholders to partner with the Government to tackle the remaining 5,000 persons who were categorized as by the FAO as being vulnerable, as it pertains to their access and availability to food,” he disclosed.

Caesar also highlighted some of the strides that had been made in the agricultural sector.

He pointed out that St Vincent and the Grenadines is the largest exporter of cattle in the Organization of the Easter Caribbean States (OECS) and one of the largest exporters in CARICOM.

Additionally, he indicated that this year alone, 80,000 pounds of starch have been exported, which is up from 27,000 pounds three years ago.

The minister also disclosed that his ministry is currently working on sending three trial shipments of banana to the United Kingdom.

He acknowledged that the agricultural sector had been ravaged by a number of issues, such as droughts, landslides, the Pink Mealy bug and Black Sigatoka, among others.

The minister also encouraged farmers to pay their National Insurance Services (NIS) dues to have something to fall back on in the future.

“We are going to carry out a national campaign in this country to ensure that our farmers put something aside, no matter how small it is, so that they can fall back on it.”

Delivering the feature address was Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.

The Prime Minister noted that agriculture is one of the largest employers by sector.

“The single largest employer of labour by sector is agriculture. By employer is the Government, but by sector is agriculture, more than tourism, more than manufacturing.”

He also indicated that agriculture alone makes up eight to nine per cent of the gross domestic product.

The Prime Minister observed that while St Vincent is blessed with fertile land, there is not much land space available for use, which is why particular attention has to be paid to selecting what to plant, the economics, and ensuring that the products that they produce make a sustainable enterprise.

He, like Caesar, declared Government’s plan to end hunger and ensure food security.

The Prime Minister boasted that since 2001, the Government had invested 100 million dollars in agriculture and will continue, as a sign of their commitment to revitalizing the agricultural industry.

“One of the things I want to say is if a man tells you that he is going to bring back bananas, as it was in the heydays of 1993-92, when we produced 80,000 tons of bananas, I tell you if a man tells you that you know right away that he is a notorious liar and he is out of connection with the real world,” the Prime Minister stated.

He explained that while the Government is trying to revitalize the banana industry, with the current economic condition of the world, what is being proposed would be a reach.

The celebrations were held under the theme “Social protection and agriculture — breaking the cycle of rural poverty” and included addresses from agricultural officials and an agricultural exhibition.(CM)

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