Agriculture Minister, Saboto Caesar is urging local farmers to seek a better price for their produce.
“You must not sell your commodities for a value below the cost of production,” the minister advised.
He made these comments on Tuesday, January 10, during his contribution to the 2023 Budget debate in Parliament.
Caesar said his ministry will commit to ensuring that farmers get a better price for their produce.
“You can’t have a sack of dasheen with 100 lbs in it, and the cost of production was $1 per pound, and somebody wants to buy it from you for $40 a sack,” the agriculture minister noted.
He feels that the time has come for the ministry to deal with this form of exploitation head on.
To this end, Minister Caesar said he will head a delegation to Trinidad and Tobago shortly, to hold talks with that country’s Minister of Agriculture, Kazim Hosein and also with purchasers in the twin island republic. For some time commodity traders, locally known as traffickers, have been experiencing difficulties with their once very lucrative Trinidad market. And, farmers have complained that when they credit their produce to these trader they are made to wait for inordinately long periods before they can be paid. Many complain that they are paid below their production cost.
Minister Caesar gave the assurance that such exploitation “must end in 2023”.
He said he wants to ensure that every dasheen farmer knows the minimum price for their goods.
In his contribution to the debate, the agriculture minister also appealed to farmers to “take seriously the process of diversification” as advanced in the 2023 Budget.
He also stressed that “ the only way forward for the production of food in this country, if we have to be successful, farmers must grow multiple crops.”
“Budget 2023 seeks to improve on the technology needed to ensure that we are competitive.”
The government is offering the assistance of tractor services and tillers to farmers.
And, Caesar said in doing so “we are ensuring that the young people of this country…will be able to be equipped with new methods of production, so that we can be competitive.”
“What Budget 23 has done” Caesar added, “ is to position St Vincent and the Grenadines to be able to produce more locally, so that we will have food security at home”.
This year 2023, will also see the reopening of the arrowroot factory at Orange Hill, where arrowroot and other starches will be processed.
In his 2023 Budget presentation, the finance minister, Camillo noted that “ the last two years have been extremely challenging for our farmers and fishers.”
“However, we approach 2023 with fresh hope, confident that we spent the last two years both sustaining our farmers and preparing to take advantage of the positive developments in the sector.”