Funds allocated to beef up agricultural production

By Reginald Andrew

WITH heavy emphasis on food production, security and reducing the country’s food imports the government has allocated a vast amount of money to some critical areas in the agriculture sector.

This year’s presentation on the Estimates of Expenditure also highlighted the allocation of funds for various projects, including road reconstruction, youth development, and healthcare.

Also discussed, were challenges faced in infrastructure projects and the focus on social transformation programs. Other subject areas included funding for repairs in the fishing industry and educational institutions, emphasizing the need for upgrades. Issues pertaining to improvements in health infrastructure were also in focus and the importance of fiscal responsibility.

Agriculture Minister Alfred Prospere said that more than $40 million in resources were given to farmers to help them better manage their workload and crop production.

He also said that under the Current estimate of Expenditure for 2024/2025, a sum of more than $30 million was allocated while Capital expenditure was earmarked at $7 million.

Minister Prospere stated that funds were distributed among several capital projects, which include the Praedial Larceny Programme, Building Resilience for Adaptation to Climate Change and Climate Durability, Banana Management Unit, Enhancing Energy Efficiency for Agro Processing with Solar Photovoltaic Power, Expansion of Food Crop Production.

The agriculture minister recalled that the Taiwanese government made an contribution of $ 9.5 million in the second phase of the Seven Crops programme which lasts for a five-year period.

He explained that the ministry is in the second year of the second phase of the programme.

He anticipates that these funds will help the country in meeting its target of 25% in food imports by 2025.

Other areas for assistance include, the Cocoa Enhancement Development Project, which in the second year of a three years. A sum of $290,300 is made available to assist with the expansion or rehabilitation of 123 acres and to cultivate approximately 294 acres cocoa.

He also said that the UK is a lucrative market for Saint Lucian cocoa and we are hoping that we will be able to continue to take advantage of the market to support our farmers.

The minister said there is a new capital project named “Tree Crop Expansion.” This project came on stream to utilize abandoned fertile lands, especially in the Mabouya and Roseau valleys and other areas.

He said it is important to convert these idle lands into productive farms, in an effort to enhance livelihood, security and a reduction of vulnerability to climate change, through a focus on selected tree crops.

Under the Livestock Development Sector, the minister disclosed, the relocation of the Beausejour Agriculture Station will receive an amount of $900,000 to help improve the breeding production of livestock and also to construct sheep and goat quarantine pens and swine breeding pens.

He recalled that the agriculture station was originally located in the southern part of the island, but the facility has been relocated to Volet to complete the infrastructural works needed to get this facility operational.

He said that under the World Bank Food and Nutrition and Security Programme, the island should receive at least 150 new bloodlines of sheep, goat and swine to begin full operation of the facility by early May.

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