Fertiliser available to farmers at a reduced cost
September 4, 2009
Fertiliser available to farmers at a reduced cost

Young Vincentians interested in pursuing a career in agriculture will get an opportunity to do so from October when the Agricultural Training Institute, now under construction, comes on stream.{{more}}

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves made the announcement on August 31 at the Input Warehouse while delivering an address at the start of the sale of 13,000 sacks of fertiliser, bought with funds under the Petros Alimentos Programme.

Gonsalves disclosed that the training institute will be officially opened during the 30th Anniversary of Independence celebrations.

Besides the persons with interest in agriculture, several seasoned and young farmers will get the opportunity to be trained at the Orange Hill facility, which is expected to improve the quality of agriculture in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Meanwhile, he added, the Input Warehouse at Bay Street, Kingstown, will sell the 13,000 sacks of fertiliser to farmers at EC $55 each. Had farmers purchased the fertiliser at the original cost they would have paid EC $114 per sack.

He also announced a reduction in the cost of other fertiliser stocked at the facility.

According to the Prime Minister, Urea, which previously cost EC $99, was reduced to EC $80 on August 31. Vegetable fertiliser, which originally cost EC $112, was also reduced to EC $80, while the Triple Super Phosphate, which cost EC $142, now costs EC $125.

Gonsalves noted there will be an arrangement with the Windward Islands Farmers Association (WINFA) and the Input Warehouse under which members will not have to pay for fertiliser up front. He added that farmers who didn’t receive their entitlement when the Banana Growers Association closed will also be entitled to fertiliser under the arrangement.

Prime Minister Gonsalves pointed out that 500 sacks will be distributed in the Chateaubelair community.

He used the opportunity to thank President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez and his administration for the “genuine gesture of friendship to the farmers”. The Petros Alimentos Programme is funded by the Venezuelan Government.

During the ceremony, Minister of Agriculture Montgomery Daniel spoke of the significant challenges faced by agriculture worldwide during the past decade.

In the case of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, he identified challenges as lost markets due to globalisation and trade liberalisation; increases in input prizes; tremendous shortages of labour; and lower productivity and competitiveness.

In 2008, he added, increased oil prices resulted in a sharp increase in the prices of fertiliser – from US $400 per ton to more than US$1, 000 per ton on the world market. Locally, the prices had moved from EC $40 per sack to as much as EC $130 per sack, even though it was subsidised by Government to the tune of EC $26.

Daniel said reducing the prices of fertiliser has always been a priority of the Government.

He disclosed that under the initiative, persons with one acre of bananas were entitled to four sacks of fertiliser. Farmers with one acre of plantains are entitled to three sacks of fertiliser, while those who plant crops such as ginger will be getting two sacks of bananas.

“We want to ensure that you the farmers respond to the challenges that are before us in the agricultural sector,” said Daniel, adding that the Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration has been very supportive to agriculture.

He promised that a second tranche of fertiliser would be made available to the farmers before the end of the year.

Chief Agricultural Officer Reuben Robertson encouraged farmers to work closely with the Ministry of Agriculture.

“We are saying to the farmers that we need you to work closely with us because the Government promised you agriculture will have a revolution just like education and the others, and this is the start to the revolution,” Robertson said.(HN)