Agricultural woes: building a domestically and internationally competitive sector

Finding agricultural products that can compete both on the domestic and international markets has been singled out as one of the major challenges facing the sector in the region.

Greg Rawlins, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) representative in the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) tells Dominica News Online that competitiveness in the market should not be taken likely.

He says that coupled with all other hurdles like climate change and lack of private sector investment, the sector could plunge further into extinction,  but Rawlins believes there is hope.

Traditionally, agriculture has been one of the most important economic sectors within the OECS countries, however, Rawlins said development has pushed it aside in favour of other sectors like tourism.

“Our cost and productivity must be looked at. We are facing threats of climate change. The issue of extreme weather conditions is having major effects on the sector,” he explained.

Rawlins said the agriculture sector needs serious public sector investments if it is to survive.

“We need to be able to mobilize private sector investments. Governments in the region seem to have constraints where funding is concerned,” he said.

The IICA official said agriculture can become the food basket of countries in the OECS but in order to achieve that level of production, “all must be involved.”

Rawlins is suggesting that governments find investors to boost the local production of foods in order to reduce the region’s high food import bill.

“I believe we need to find those products and make arrangements to attract investors…we need to find mechanisms for our small producers to cooperate more,” he explained.

He is also a proponent of linking agriculture with tourism in terms of food production and using agricultural assets as a tourist attraction.

Rawlins believes that new technologies and systems of production should be used to attract young people into the sector.

“We need to demonstrate to them that agriculture is a very profitable option available to them. We need to provide them with the necessary land and programs designed to support youth participation,” he said.

There have been complaints that banks often turn away potential farmers because they do not think that farming is a viable business, or that land is a sufficient source of collateral. This adds to the perception that farming is not an attractive enterprise.

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3 Comments

  1. Dr.Clayton Shillingford
    October 21, 2019

    All good points but agriculture unfortunately does not lend itself that easily to corruption..and self enrichment… The other avenues are more susceptible e.g tourism, selling passports ..etc Agriculture no matter that it has tremendous benefits in national interest it requires much work, planning, investment etc

  2. Back to the soil
    October 20, 2019

    Mr. Rawlins
    Let not your heart be troubled for us in Dominica. UWP has plans that will revolutionize agriculture. We just need to get rid of the DLP first. Check us again in 18 months time. :wink:

  3. %
    October 20, 2019

    In Dominica agriculture has not been set aside for tourism, rather it has been set aside for passport sales, by a lazy regime..The most stupid and idiotic Minister (Reginald Austrie) in the OECS is Dominica’s agriculture Minister. Imagine that! After 20 years in office the industry has been killed by those wickeds, while St Lucia, St Vincent, and Grenada still have thriving agriculture.. The demise of agriculture in Dominica is deliberate, and it will continue until this regime is sent packing!
    Dominica can surely do better, and will do better when the government changes soon!
    Skerrit:
    Whey is di money?
    Whey is di money?
    Whey is di money?

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