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Opposition leader says government is failing the local arrowroot sector


The New Democratic Party (NDP) thinks that the government is failing the local arrowroot sector.

Speaking at Democrat House last Tuesday, two days after the NDP held an arrowroot Forum in Owia, Leader of the Opposition Dr. Godwin Friday said that what emerged from that forum is a tale of neglect and incompetence on the part of the government.

“Farmers complained about the lack of access to credit or other money to plant and care for their crops. This is made worse, they told us, by the chronic lateness of payment for the arrowroot they sell to the government-owned factory,” Dr. Friday told reporters.

He said that production volume is down, and one farmer reminisced about the years when his family’s arrowroot plantations produced one million pounds of arrowroot, whereas presently, he sells only about 20,000 pounds to the factory, and often has to wait a long time for payment.

“Other problems noted were a lack of extension services from the Ministry of Agriculture and spoilage of the rhizomes after delivery to the factory. The farmers and others also said that the arrowroot factory should not be moved from Owia to Orange Hill, largely because of a lack of sufficient water in Orange Hill for the processing of the crop. Any plan to do
that should therefore be scrapped, it is a backward step,” said Dr. Friday.

He said that the NDP will continue to study the industry and remain in close dialogue with the producers, and the NDP is committed to the arrowroot farmers and the people of North Windward.

“The NDP is committed to getting the arrowroot industry back on its feet and to making it profitable for the farmers,” said Dr. Friday, noting that farmers must be made an essential part of the planning and decision-making in the industry.