February 19, 2010
Livestock famers benefit under poverty alleviation program

Close to 100 persons stand to benefit from the distribution of animals under the Poverty Alleviation Program being pursued by the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The distribution of these animals commenced on Monday, February 15, given free of cost to persons throughout the state by Minister of Agriculture Montgomery Daniel.{{more}}

According to Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Kathian Hackshaw, the sheep are part of a consignment of 86 animals imported in December 2009 from Barbados. They have been purchased under the Petros Alimentos Agriculture Initiative program, (ALBA), which commenced in 2009, an initiative between the Government of St.Vincent and the Grenadines and that of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Dr. Hackshaw stated that each person will receive 1 pregnant doe and will be expected to return 1 female off-spring to the Ministry later on in the programme. Daniel used the opportunity on Tuesday last to remind farmers of the North Windward area that “When you obtain these animals today, I want to say to you that there is a form that you have to sign. It’s a contract between you and the Ministry of Agriculture. The animal values approximately two hundred and fifty dollars.

“When you receive that animal, it is not yours until you return one lamb to the Ministry of Agriculture. Once you receive the animal, after you have returned one lamb, then you can say yes, this animal is mine.”

According to the Minister, the poverty Alleviation program has assisted farmers through the distribution of fertilizer, seeds, feeds and animals. This latest thrust is a medium to long-term response to the high import bill relating to livestock and livestock products. “We are very cognizant that the food importation bill as it relates to livestock and livestock products is very high. And so, it is the policy of the Ministry of Agriculture to indeed reduce this high importation bill as it relates to meats and meat products. And so, we are here this morning to distribute these animals to you the farmers”.

The Livestock Poverty Aleviation program will be a continuous one extended to farmers throughout the state, including the Grenadine islands. The Ministry has targeted the importation of 500 Barbados Black Belly Sheep to be imported over the life of the program some of which will go towards another livestock development initiative dubbed “the livestock commercialization program” soon to be launched.

Minister Daniel also disclosed that this programme is being equally supported through the proper establishment of a legislative framework in the form of the Agricultural Produce and Livestock (prevention of theft) Act 2007, and other forms of legislation to control the wanton destruction of animals by dogs and the controlled movement of animals throughout the state.

The farmers will be monitored and given technical assistance to ensure the program attains its objectives.