Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Dr Eisenhower Douglas, wants a one-day national consultation to finalise a public policy towards agriculture to be drafted by month end and to be ready by April for cabinet’s approval. Douglas was speaking this morning at the National Consultation on Public Policy Towards Agriculture at the Garraway Hotel.
“This consultation is not an end in itself. The end is to put a policy together and to get the policy approved by cabinet and we hope that that can occur sometime around Easter,” he said.
According to Douglas, if that can be done and “we don’t see any reason why not”, the policy would be ready for the new fiscal year (beginning July 1st), and it would be useful in the implementation of programs and projects.
“We hope we can have a draft document by the end of January so that beyond that we have something tangible that persons can look at”.
He also mentioned that the setting up of a public policy began in 2007 but “for a variety of reasons the actual approval of the policy did not take place. Now I would like to call that water under the bridge. But I want to give you the assurance that we are building on the solid foundation that was laid by their efforts, people who are actually in this room today,” he stated.
Douglas noted, however, that there are “a set of crucial milestones prior to getting to that point,” such as ensuring that the policy is relevant and there is a dialogue between officials and stakeholders.
He also called for more young people to study agriculture so that it can get its rightful place at the top.
Addressing the same function, acting National Authorizing Officer (NAO) for the European Development Fund Lisa Valmond said that crucial to the attainment of the objectives of the agriculture policy is to increase the productivity of the sector and that will only be derived from increased investment. “Recognizing this, the European Union has committed to investing EC$ 54 million over a five-year period under the Banana Accompanying Measures (BAM).” The (BAM) is a series of measures aimed at strengthening the viability of agriculture and increasing its productivity and competitiveness.
Valmond, too, added her voice in commending the move and stated that one of the major issues which emerged during the programming phase of the BAM was the lack of an agriculture policy and therefore its urgent need in order to guide the priorities for European Union funding. The funding was a means of boosting the agricultural sector.