It’s not clear what level of attention the agriculture sector will receive when Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit presents the national budget on July 17, in his capacity as finance minister.
But his critics have been blasting PM Skerrit and his government for, in their words, ignoring agriculture in favor of tourism, resulting in the once striving sector buckling under tremendous strain.
In his 2010 budget presentation the prime minister had been conscious of the need to pay serious attention to agriculture, which, when banana was king, made significant contributions to the state coffers.
“In agriculture the next level will be greatly increased market driven production and quality commodities to be supplied on a regular and reliable basis to niche markets in the Caribbean and beyond,” the prime minister promised in 2010.
His critics suggest his government has failed miserably to deliver on that promise.
Earlier this year when PM Skerrit announced that government was making $2 million available to tackle farm access roads, his critics were harsh in their condemnation, suggesting that much more of the $20 million he announced for major road rehabilitation should have been allocated for dealing with feeder roads to facilitate farmers being able to take their produce to the local market, and as equally important to facilitate exports.
The prime minister has indicated that the rough global economic situation dictates that a budget reflecting those hard times is what will be presented.
How austere it will be will become evident on July 17.
Whether agriculture will receive key attention there also won’t be known until he unveils the 2012-2013 fiscal package.