March 4, 2014

NDP promises income support and supervisory organization to farmers

Leader of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) Arnhim Eustace has proposed the development of an organization, which would belong to farmers, to supervise the recovery of the banana industry.{{more}}

Eustace made the proposal at an NDP Consultation with Farmers, held at the Chapmans Community Centre, last Thursday, February 27, 2014.

The organization will be part of the NDP’s plan for reshaping and revitalising the banana industry, outlined by Eustace, the party said in a release on the consultation.

“This plan should see banana exports reach levels of 40-50M per year,” the release said.

“Among other things Eustace’s plan would see farmers receive discounts on inputs, and income support, in an industry which would have a supervisory organization belonging to farmers, and not the government,” it said.

“He also saw a properly run Ministry of Agriculture structured differently, with a different attitude to farmers and their responsibility to develop the industry, as being critical to its revival.

“Pointing to the profits realized from farmers’ exports of bananas to the UK, a figure of some six million pounds, Eustace reminded the farmers that none of the profits came back to them, and that the current ULP government is not considering income support for farmers, something Eustace considers fundamental to the recovery process,” the release said.

“A farmer has a family and he and his family must eat. They must be given some sort of income support. I propose $500.00 per month for six months, while they reinvest their energies into seeing their crop come,” Eustace was quoted as saying.

Eustace reminded the farmers that this plan could only be implemented if an NDP government is in office. He called on the farmers to understand that they have the responsibility to give themselves a chance to return to sustainable banana farming.

“The NDP,” said Eustace, “is committed to seeing the entire agriculture industry rebound.”

Meanwhile, Shadow Minister on Agriculture, MP for North Leeward Roland “Patel” Matthews told the consultation there is a magnificent opportunity to return the agriculture industry to being one of the major contributors to our nation’s macro-economy,” the party said.

“Matthews stressed modernization, and the use of technology and encouraging our youth to see agriculture as a viable business, where markets for new commodities can be found, using the infrastructure we already own in the UK to provide new produce to the supermarkets with whom we already do business,” it added.

“Candidate for North Windward Lauron “Sheara” Baptiste, using a PowerPoint presentation, echoed the sentiments shared by the other presenters and showed how the North Windward constituency and other farming constituencies could benefit from a vibrant industry. His presentation, which culminated with a slide showing people moving towards a safe haven in the NDP, was warmly received by all. “Candidate for Central Leeward Ben Exeter was on hand, with farmers from his constituency also in attendance; likewise, NDP’s Candidate for Marriaqua Curtis Bowman and South Windward’s Candidate Noel Dickson.

“The farmers, in the open forum, took the opportunity to outline the challenges they are facing, and how the state of the economy was making it virtually impossible for them to sustain their livelihood. They continue to express despair over the situation, and they endorsed the plan to revitalize the banana industry.

“Many saw the event as a call to arms for farmers to do all in their power to ensure that the NDP gets the opportunity to lead the nation and their industry back to a position of prominence and strength,” the release said.

It said the NDP will continue its outreach to communities in the weeks and months to come. The consultation was carried live on Nice Radio and chaired by NDP’s candidate for North Central Windward Kenroy Johnson.