Older farmers who are not utilizing their lands have been told that it can be converted into a source of income for retirement.
Acting Prime Minister, Ambrose George, told the official opening of a modern Dominica/China Agricultural Station in One Mile, Portsmouth that older farmers could enter into arrangements with younger farmers and earn income.
“I would therefore like to appeal to the owners of these farms to enter into arrangements with the younger and more abled farmers … either through lease arrangement or cut-sharing arrangement to put back those lands back into production,” he said. “By doing so the owners of those lands will earn an income whilst in retirement.”
George pointed to the new agricultural facility, established and operated by the Chinese, saying it has exposed farmers, youth, and importantly school children, to many innovations in agriculture.
“And that should whet their appetite for the sector and thus increase our output in various agricultural commodities. But we cannot achieve this if we continue to see very prime agriculture land lying fallow,” he noted.
The Acting Prime Minister also noted that no country should allow itself to be dependent on others for its basic food supply.
“We boast of fertile land, an abundance of water, and sunshine for most days of the year. We therefore have the assets, notwithstanding challenges to secure our basic supply of food through our own efforts,” he pointed out.
He also challenged nutritionists, home economists, and agro processors to come together with the aim of creating attractive, tasty and marketable food products from locally produced raw materials.
“In doing so, you will be contributing to saving foreign exchange, sustaining agriculture jobs and nurturing a healthier population,” George said.
Meantime Agriculture Minister, Matthew Walter, noted that statistics obtained from the Statistical Division for 2008-20011 revealed that there have been annual increased production in all categories of root crops, vegetables, tree crops and pineapples.
The only exceptions, he said, were 2007 and 2010 when the island was severely affected by Hurricane Dean and drought respectively.
He gave the following production figures which, he said, reflect the true performance of the agricultural sector from 2005-2011:
2005- 24,000 tons
2006- 26,000 tons
2007- 24,000 tons
2008- 28,000 tons
2009- 35,000 tons
2010- 28,000 tons
2011- 50,000 tons
He said statistics for 2012-2013 are not yet ready for disclosure.
“Hence, we can conclude there is growth in the agricultural sector, agriculture is alive and moving onto the next level,” Walter said.