Agricultural Co-operatives and farmers’ groups across the island are set to benefit from the donation of tools/equipment amounting to US$700,000 and small farm implements by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Some of the items include chainsaws, cutlasses, water tank, wheelbarrow, shovels, sheep and goat fence among others.
“As you know, in the wake of the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria, FAO came onboard very early and not only did we provide funding to the tune of about US$700,000 from various donors, but we also brought to the ground some technical assistance,” FAO Subregional Coordinator for the Caribbean Dr. Lystra Fletcher-Paul said while addressing a handing over ceremony held at the Division of Agriculture main office in the Botanic Gardens on Thursday.
She said the FAO is very pleased to have been able to provide assistance.
Dr. Fletcher-Paul stated that the FAO has been able to mobilize additional resources to the tune of US$100,000 to provide some assistance in the area of collecting data and information.
“Building resilience is not something that you do immediately post disaster and forget about it; you also have to continue to work on the ground with the farmers, with the ministry to continue to help people to understand what it means to build resilience, to build back a resilient country and in that regard we have been able to mobilize some additional resources in the tune of US$100,000 right now to provide some assistance in area of collecting data and information so that we can respond more quickly and more efficiently in the wake of the disaster,” she stated.
She highlighted three lessons learned after Hurricane Maria devastated Dominica.
“To me, it slowed down our ability to respond quickly,” she noted. “One, was a lack of information and data, where were the affected farmers? What did they have on the ground before the hurricane, so that we could have been able to estimate the damage and losses…”
She continued, “The other important lesson that we learned was that the community is very important in helping to build back and build back quickly…”
Dr. Fletcher-Paul added that the third important point is that, “we were effective because we worked in partnership.”
“Partnership is the key for us to be able to achieve the sustainable development goals and to build resilience,” she remarked.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Dr. Reginald Thomas said farmers on the island have shown a level of resilience because they went back to the farms after Hurricane Maria.
“If the farmers did not go back and start to plant we would importing food as we speak…” he said. “We want to say to the farmers that we really appreciate their resilience, the manner in which you were able to go back to the farms and to start to process food for us.”
Meantime, Registrar for Cooperatives, Mariet Canoville said while the country is recuperating from Hurricane Maria, “cooperatives is the best way to go.”
“Uniting people to build our economy, to produce again, on the fields particularly in agriculture,” she stated.
Canoville revealed that FAO and the International Cooperative Alliance signed an agreement which is intended to focus on food security and eradicating poverty in the rural community.
“This partnership which was done in Dominica right after the storm between FAO, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is of no real surprise,” she said.