OECS to tackle high food import bill

The OECS hopes to place emphasis on agriculture and agricultural produce
The OECS hopes to place emphasis on agriculture and agricultural produce

Facing a massive US$480-million food import bill, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) is to put in place a plan for agriculture which aims to reduce that expense.

OECS Director General Dr. Didacus Jules said at a press conference on Wednesday that the grouping hopes the plan will reduce the bill by US$200-million.

“The capacity to feed ourselves is a fundamental responsibility of any society and the reality is that in the last ten years the food import bill in the OECS has doubled,” he stated. “We are now at about US$480 million of food imports.”

He stated that recently the OECS Council of Ministers of Agriculture held a meeting and an agricultural plan of action was developed to tackle the matter.

Jules noted that one of the main pillars of the plan of action is “a serious drive” to reduce the food import bill “by at least US$200-million within the next three to five years.”

He, however, pointed out that effort will be needed for accomplishing that goal.

“That is going to require a very concerted effort and strong political will by all the member states in order to have it accomplished,” he said. “But think of the impact of us accomplishing that. If you reduce your food import bill by US$200 million in these debt ridden time, that is US$200 million that you are actually saving, that you don’t have to spend on bringing food in from outside.”

He said that the emphasis on agriculture will have an impact on rural unemployment because it will create dynamism in the local market.

“The Ministers of Agriculture has decided that the first point of call has to set an example in government procurement,” Jules noted. “So for example if Ministries of Education have a school feeding program, the government will buy produce from farmers in the communities where the schools are located …”

The Director General said the entire program is not only about revitalizing agriculture.

“It is about food security, it is also about improving the national nutritional profile, it is about saving foriegn exchange, it is about boosting jobs in the communities and it is an opportunity for us to begin to restore agriculture to a different place…” Jules said.

Dr. Jules is now on his first visit to Dominica as OECS Director General.

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29 Comments

  1. April 24, 2015

    Dominica have what it takes to grow what we need to eat plenty of water and rain fall. There is a few products that we can grow and export. We have some of the best tasting coffee and cocoa on the planet. White people is addicted to coffee they must have it . Its not grown in europe lets supply them with the fix. You need business men and women to ship it , you need people to plant it, you dont need the Government to do any thing for you. The private sector have to do more for them self. Governments are not the best people to help you create wealth. It is going to take individuals with brains and courage to move the country forward.

  2. April 24, 2015

    Dominicans never went hungry when the British was in charge , we planted every thing and feed the British too. We have to ask what happened, why are we importing so much, before we talk about politics we must learn to feed our selves again. We know what to do , why are we not doing it, stop the excuses.

  3. April 24, 2015

    In a financially strong society the Government works more for the people and not for them selves. Strong rule of law , we are not lazy we wast to much time talking about what the Government is not doing , and not talking enough about what we should do to solve our problems. Do we know what to do , lets start talking and listening to the ones who knows and lets follow and get the job done. Getting angry with Governments does not create one single job. The caribean is going back to the pr ople who stole it from the natives , and we will be come servants again. We are so blind and weak we are still asleep. Are we waiting for the British to tell us what to do. Dominicans lets do it wr know how now.

  4. April 24, 2015

    We are having a conversation about self and that is brilliant. If we stay and think politicians and rich people are going to give us money to solve our problems we will be waiting for a long time. Dominica have some of the best money savers in the world. Some things are working already, we are getting educated in finance. Finance have nothing to do with black or white. They find a way in Asia to do it, we have to find a way to do it in the caribean, money is not all the problems we have , we have to learn to speak the same language, what fo we have to do yo create jobs and wealth for our people, forget the government . Nassief family came to Dominica with a suit case, as a people all we do fight and argue over nothing, we need solutions to our problems.

  5. April 24, 2015

    That is the main reason why i say skerrit must go,people must be self sufficient ,in order words people must be able to supply their own needs especially food which is the most important thing in life after water ,which we have in abundance in dominica…again i must point out that civic education should be an every day matter over the radio,at school ,at home and on the t.v to remind , teach every one to respect the water resources that we have,good water good food and visi versa …dominica in improoving in the reverse ,so sad to say but what will we leave for our children ?

    • The Facts
      April 25, 2015

      I suppose you meant, “in other words”.
      Why attack the PM on this? It is shocking that on every article the PM is attacked as if he is the father of D/cans and has authority over them.
      Do Dominicans who have ample land not know that they should grow their own? This would result in a substantial saving. The farmers are aware of that.
      People in cold climates who own houses cannot wait for the proper time when it gets milder and warm to grow vegetables. Summer is shorter than winter. They grow every possible vegetable and herb; even garlic and onions. Some herbs could be grown indoors. They can tomatoes and other vegetables which they use in winter. They also make fruit preserves.
      Those who reside in apartments with a balcony as also in condominiums, also grow some on their balconies.
      Dominica is a tropical country year-round. Those who have land around their house could grow vegetables, what they are able to grow. They as you must be ambitious in this respect.

  6. Farmer Boy
    April 24, 2015

    Nature Island Farms (N.I.F)

  7. DD
    April 23, 2015

    isnt that the exact same thing that Thompson Fontaine proposed in 2011
    yet no one took heed and dollars were spent frivolously while industries suffered

    https://dominicanewsonline.com/news/homepage/news/economy-development/fontaine-wants-dominica-to-increase-export-and-reduce-import-bill/

  8. Merlot
    April 23, 2015

    Does anybody know what Dominica’s share of that bill is? It’d be interesting to view a report of how this tab is broken down per island.

  9. April 23, 2015

    Philip nassief did not wait on the Government to build a factory, we becomes beggers waiting on some one to tell us what to do , we must stop that behavior now.

    • out of south city
      April 23, 2015

      My brother, you are always on point. We have this notion that the so-called developed countries are better than ours and we have a tendency to look up to them. What we need to do is just to go back to the ways of our ancestors and stop following in the footsteps of these countries. We have what nature has provided us with and we must work with what we have. Going back to the soil and planting so that we can eat the natural. We should be exporting food to these countries instead of importing these foods that are filled with junk (preservatives), causing so many diseases. We need to remove the blinders from our eyes so that our vision can be clear again.

      PEACE

    • out of south city
      April 24, 2015

      My brother, I concur. For too long we have been looking to these so-called developed countries, thinking that they are better than us and that we have to follow in their footsteps. We have forgotten the ways of our fore-parents, when they planted and provided for the family and sold their produce on the market. At one time we exported a lot of produce but now it seems like we have become beggars, like you said, waiting for others to tell us what we must do, when we were the initiators.
      We must go back to our culture as a people. If we continue importing these deadly foods, we will continue to die like flies.

      PEACE

    • The Facts
      April 25, 2015

      This is their fault. It has nothing to do with the PM as some wrongly blame him.
      For a climate as D/ca, they could make fruitful use of their land. The poorest of people, if they reside in a house with ample land around it, could grow some vegetables. They will have to be taught to be ambitious and grow their own.

  10. April 23, 2015

    Forget the Government they cannot get these things done . It must come from the private sector we have to tell the Governments how we want to achieve these goals. They are not business people they are politicians, if we have to wait on them we will starve. We have to create the model and tell them how to implement it. We have been waiting for these people to long we have to do it our selves.

    • The Facts
      April 25, 2015

      It is foolish to wait for the government. I think the government has its hands full with seeing about matters of the State.
      The government could advise them and probably assist in providing the material, where needed.
      They should approach the government, as their MP, and put forth their plan. Then they should take it from there and help themselves.
      We know the saying, “God help those who help themselves.”

  11. La Voix
    April 23, 2015

    We in the Caribbean region must recognize that feeding ourselves is the most important factor in survival and sustainable development. The OECS region must deepen its relation internally, that is intra regional trade and trade within CARICOM. We sometimes talk but talking does not put food on the table if we don not have a comprehensive food security initiative. I support all efforts by the region to address this and work towards uniting the region in tackling the problems that confront us. We spend too much time on talking about the problem and not much time on addressing the problem so I want to encourage the Director General and the entire OECS organs to put their resources together in addition to CARDI and build a platform for long term food security and sustainability. That would be planning for the long term. I fully support the food security initiative.

  12. Yawn
    April 23, 2015

    Yes this is a truly great initiative. I want to play a part.

  13. Judy
    April 23, 2015

    Caribbean natives are snobs, as they do not like produce of the Caribbean.

    They spend their time watching American programmes with the intention to emulate their life style, irrespective of their ability to afford it.

    They do not support their local farmers, or fishermen as they perceive their products to be inferior, when in actual fact locally produced food stuff is far superior to the imported stuff.

    The governments should impose huge tariff on imported food as should force the snobs to partake in local produce.

    • out of south city
      April 23, 2015

      I second the motion

      PEACE

    • The Facts
      April 25, 2015

      You mean some of them?
      Local food and fish are healthy. As for the fish, it makes my mouth water when I recall the fish in D/ca. :lol: I ate a lot of fish then; still love fish. It is said it is brain food.
      Growing your own and supporting the farmers and fishermen may help some combat obesity and keep everyone as healthy as possible.
      In speaking to a friend at Christmas, I was informed that an imported leg of lamb cost $92.00. I could not believe the cost. This friend was tempted to purchase it since it was Christmas but did not.
      By the way some people make their own wine and beer. It is a long process and time consuming but well worth the time and effort.
      Preparing your own food and drink, whatever the drink, I always say, “At least you know what you eat and drink.
      During a relevant conversation, I said to someone, whatever I can make, I will. There is nothing better than preparing your own. There is some pride in it and to rejoice about.

  14. April 23, 2015

    I have been saying the same thing for about 20 yrs. Since the British and the opening of the university of the westindes we have been creating elites doing nothing but pushing papers in Roseau. It is so simple any body with a P H D if they have a farm and raise one million chickens every three months they dont have to import any chicken. And they would make a better living than working for Government. In the caribean we are be coming a service economy serving reach people. Sooner or later we will own no land. We can solve the problem take the tie off and think. Work the land and learn to feed ourselves.

    • out of south city
      April 24, 2015

      My brother, we believe that having a degree is the in thing. (Mark you, I’m not against anyone obtaining a degree). It is just that since we were colonised, we lost all manner of our identity and were transformed into what we were not. All we know is the British way and know nothing of our African-ness. Although we had no control over what happened to our fore-fathers, in this enlightened age, where research is at our finger tips, we need to make a greater effort in educating ourselves about who we are. That is, our history, meaning studying or researching what our fore-fathers were before they were enslaved.
      We have allowed a minority group of people dictate to us, such as to tell us what to eat, wear, speak, dress and so forth. At this present time we need to redefine who we are and not accept others to define us. We are taught by the Eurocentric world that we are less intelligent than the minority race, that we commit more crime, that we suffer with almost all kinds of diseases.

      • out of south city
        April 24, 2015

        Continuation…..
        that they are the inventors of almost everything whereas it is the reverse. We must realise that we have always been the first and whatever is present now was copied from us. One sister said to me recently, that the Europeans just “copied and pasted.”
        We must go back to nature to find our spirituality. We were created by our parents to have a relationship with nature. That’s where life is found. Just imagine, real fruits and vegetables unlike eating packaged foods. Life is in the cosmos ant that include the heavens and the earth. Nature has allowed it where everything that we need to survive is found there. The people, sun, stars, planets, earth, seas, rivers, wind, animals, plants,etc.,.
        We must not let our intelligence be subdued by the dictated forces out there whose intention is to destroy everything in nature.
        There is one brother who said, “if the sun is against you, then you were not meant to be here.”
        (food for thought)

    • The Facts
      April 25, 2015

      A former boss who was the Manager of the department at a financial institution, resigned. He went into cabinet making. This pays well.
      Another one also resigned to do painting. Those jobs pay well. Office work does not pay; hardly ever.
      Some people quit their office jobs to do such jobs.

  15. AA
    April 23, 2015

    LOL LOL LOL SMH at these people.

  16. Justkum
    April 23, 2015

    Wonderful gesture. If it is achieved we will definitely see a marked improvement in local economies. However we can’t continue to talk about this only because it sounds good. We must begin to strategize and say where to start..we start first by identifying foods imported that can be produced locally (in the OECS) cheaper than wt it costs to import, but not every island for himself, because we talking about the OECS collective market..thus, COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGE is also important; which island can better produce what..and the OECS Governments study, invest and manage accordingly..It will be a major logistical challenge long before it becomes a practical challenge..are we up to it? Among the major hindrances for moving the small islands forward is a lack of willingness to yield sovereignty, as if it is more important ONLY to be a Dominican and suffer than to collectively invest in Antigua to produce our bread..what % of imported food is primary agri products? MANUFACTURING anyone??

  17. TRUEMAN
    April 23, 2015

    *****SERIOUS LEADERS NEEDED*****

    “That is going to require a very concerted effort and strong political will by all the member states in order to have it accomplished,” he said. “
    ………………………………….
    The above statement is very true!

    Our current leaders in the Caribbean has very little will of any kind except when it comes to
    “easy leadership”.

    We seem to go the easy way; import as much as we can. Don’t manufacture, produce, make or create anything of significance. In doing so, we continue to break the legs of the farmers and the agricultural industry.

    This is a really great idea that’s LONG over due. I really wish this goal can be realized for the betterment of Caribbean and our people.

    But I also realized that we NEED effective and SERIOUS leaders. Our leaders should lead us with a true sense of purpose and vision.

    Sadly, our current leaders lack the will and vision!

    But we must not surrender!!

    -Thanks

    • The Facts
      April 25, 2015

      One problem with that, buying local could be expensive. This has also been a complaint. The cost would have to be regulated.

  18. Demon
    April 23, 2015

    Duh ! Thats a no brainer – these governments have become complacent and ignored what they have and the industries they should have been building instead of waiting for handouts from China and Venezuela. I am quite dishearten by what has happened in Dominica in terms of agriculture and other potential industries.

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