Johnson Drigo

Minister for Agriculture, Johnson Drigo, has called on the private sector to partner with government in the agricultural sector.

Drigo said at present, markets are demanding high volumes in terms of agriculture.

“The time is right to invite the private sector to partner with government in the agricultural sector,” he said. “The private sector, there are avenues; there is the $10 million facility.”

Drigo continued, “I want to encourage the private sector to go into agriculture.”

The minister explained that a number of the private sector and business owners own a large parcel of land, “they have the employment structure, which includes the paying of social security and everything else……the private sector must now start thinking of supporting agriculture in order that we can meet the volume the market is demanding out there.”

Drigo went on to say that traditionally there are small farmers in small holdings doing mixed farming, “but we need a rapid expansion in dasheen, in yams, in potatoes, ginger and I believe the private sector can play a good role in that.”

 The Ministry of Agriculture, he said, expects expansion in dasheen production and root crop in particular.

“We expect to meet the qualities required for the markets that we have secured for the farmers in the US, in the Europe, but it will come in hard work,” he noted.

Meantime Drigo stated that farmers should be encouraged by the 2017/2018 National Budget.

He encouraged farmers to be “excited about the budget” and to prepare themselves to take advantage of all of the opportunities within the budget.”

Drigo said farmers must be prepared to work very hard.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Harold Guiste, said recently, at a seminar organized by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), that there was a “bombardment” of requests for agricultural produce from Dominica to various markets around the world.

Guitse said the Ministry of Agriculture has embarked on a project to increase production of dasheen as an economic crop for Dominica and a dasheen expansion program has been developed to meet at least two containers of dasheen to the U.S. and perhaps “one or two to the U.K. and other produce to be taken by hucksters through the region.”