The New Minister for Agriculture Reginald Austrie has announced his ministry’s plans to embark on a “Meet the Farmers Tour”
Austrie made this announcement during the Dominica Agricultural Industrial and Development (AID) Bank Annual General Meeting at the Goodwill Parish Hall Wednesday morning.
“Very shortly we will be embarking on a Meet the Farmers Tour and that tour will primarily constitute of taking your telephone numbers and giving you my telephone number,” he said.
He stated that this new initiative by the ministry will help in creating direct contact with the minister, so the needs of the farmers will be delivered on time.
“During the next few hours I will be meeting with the various sectors and hoping that as early as Tuesday of next week I can bring a recommendation to Cabinet and if Cabinet approves within the next week you will hear about the changes we intend to make a greater and more efficiency at the ministry and at the farm level,” said Austrie.
In addition, Austrie, who was named Deputy Prime Minister recently, said that structural and administrative changes are required within the Ministry of Agriculture.
“I want to say to you as the new Minister for Agriculture, having spent a few days in the ministry and still trying to find my way around it, one thing is clear if we are to succeed in agriculture there have to be some administrative and structural changes to the ministry,” he stated.
Austrie noted that farmers are of great importance in society and should not be at the lowest in the chain of agriculture in the country.
“Farmers will have to be at the forefront of championing our food security situation,” he said
Meantime, Austrie said that the government is concerned over the pace of disbursement of funds to key sectors by the AID Bank.
“We are therefore concerned that we have not been able to make more progress in ensuring that the funds made available by the government for on-lending to key sectors are not moving as quickly as we anticipated,” he noted.
He said that these loan facilities were structure based on the needs articulated by those relevant sectors.
“In this period of rebuilding our country, the bank, therefore, has to be strategic and practical accommodating yet, careful,” said Austrie.