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Agriculture Minister makes call to diaspora

Agriculture Minister makes call to diaspora

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A call has been made to persons in the diaspora, especially in North America, who are interested in trading in agricultural produce from St Vincent and the Grenadines to come forward.

Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar said at a press conference yesterday that with the coming on stream of the Argyle International Airport (AIA), trade between this country and North America is set to take off and the time is right for interested persons who wish to do business{{more}} with local farmers to show interest.

The Agricultural Minister said that his Ministry, through analysis, is able to note, recognize and record that the price of selling produce to Trinidad and Tobago is fluctuating significantly and that means that with new markets coming on stream in the United States of America (USA), farmers will reduce supply to some of the traditional markets and this will have a positive impact on the stabilization of prices and the possible increase in prices on produce coming from SVG.

“But it is not going to happen by wishful thinking or by us simply sitting back and not being active in creating a cadre of persons who will be ready and willing to take up this opportunity to export produce utilizing the Argyle International Airport.

“We are making a call for persons in the diaspora, North America. Persons who are willing to be traders between SVG and North America to express interest,” said Caesar, who revealed that a desk is being set up in the agri business unit to deal with persons from the diaspora.

He said that the information will be managed and monitored by the chief agricultural officer Ashley Cain and Colville King of the agri-business unit.

“We want persons in the diaspora to come forward now that we have a comparative advantage in our trade. We want people to come forward and discuss how we can put in place the best framework. Government is not going to be exporting produce. It is going to be an affair for the private sector and we want to see how we can incentivize this framework as much as possible, so that the private sector can become active and begin this very important trade,” said Caesar.

The Minister added also that we are going to see a positive evolution in the exportation of fish, with the opening of the AIA, “and again, we are encouraging persons who are willing to purchase agricultural commodities from St Vincent and the Grenadines to be exported to the USA, we want persons to be involved in the fish trade.”

This country already exports cattle to Grenada and the Minister said that his Ministry wants to ensure that in 2016, greater order is brought to the process of exportation.

He added also that they are looking at several other islands that wish to import cattle from SVG, but the Ministry wants to ensure that the farmers get the best price.

The Ministry is also seeking a market in Trinidad and Tobago for sheep and goats, “and by the end of 2016, this is something that we can look forward to seeing in action.”

Caesar noted also that a lot of work is being done on reducing vegetables imports and as a result, greenhouse parks will be coming on stream to lift the country’s agriculture game.

The agriculture minister is also encouraging farmers to grow good quality produce, as the outside market is very competitive and we are not the only producer in the marketplace, as competition in the Trinidad market is now coming from places like South and Central America.

“Even though 98 per cent of the root crops (sold in Trinidad) originate from SVG, we have to ensure that we maintain that competitive edge,” stressed Caesar, who opined that a number of banana farmers are not producing for the United Kingdom, so they entertain the idea that they do not have to provide the best quality product they can.

He said that this is not the case, as they still have to pay attention to quality, so that the marketing power and ability to obtain higher price is always an option.(LC)

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