Our Readers' Opinions
November 29, 2016
Resetting the economic strategies for rural development in 10 rural constituencies

Editor: The ULP administration has been the most successful and progressive administration in St Vincent and the Grenadines. However, despite the successes, the rural economies are struggling and people are complaining about the limited economic opportunity available in their own rural communities.{{more}}

As a community organizer I want to put forward a grass-root development and job creation agenda:

COMMUNITY INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT

A massive community road building and repair programme, similar to the “gouti track” programme in 1984-89, undertaken by the Ministry of Rural Development. I want to suggest that the next cycle of BNTF funds, with matching funds from the Central Government, be used for such a programme. I further recommend that instead of another shipment of building materials at this point in time, an alternative shipment of cement, steel and BRC be purchased to support the programme, with the work given to small community contractors. I envision that this 10-15 million dollar programme, properly spent within these 10 communities within a three-year period as a poverty alleviation strategy, will create thousands of jobs in the rural communities.

AGRICULTURE

Reassignment of some monies – allocated to fishing – to Orange Hill tissues lab to propagate and replant the following organic crops which have huge market potential:

(a) Replanting of at least fifty (50) thousand coconut trees to replace the present plants that are very old and past their prime bearing stage

(b) Replanting of a similar number of breadfruit trees keeping them within 10 feet tall

(c) Replanting of citrus and soursops

TRADE

St Vincent and the Grenadines is one of the OECS countries where there is no central government buying agency; therefore, Government should:

(a) Appoint a trade representative to facilitate trade between St Vincent and Martinique and Guadeloupe;

(B) Our representatives in USA, Canada and England should begin the process of looking for markets for our agriculture and non-agriculture products;

(C) Aggressively support our traffickers with their currency exchange problem in Trinidad and Tobago;

(c) Creation of a marketing and production unit to guide our farmers in the production of various crops through market research in our export markets.

COMMUNITY ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Change the yes programme from a one-year programme to a two-year tech/voc/apprentice programme, with a heavy practical component, to train our youth in a number of critical skills that are needed in the communities.

Support a cadre of local entrepreneurs with the necessary training, financial and technical support for the local and export market. For example, two local persons have constructed local electrical machines to grate coconuts – 20 such mills placed in different areas in the country can increase the production of local coconut oil.

UTILITIES

Remove the practice of poor people having to buy poles and pipes for domestic purposes; this measure will help to support local building and agriculture industry and remove the awesome burden on people.

Deniston Douglas