A project designed to help farmers and fisher folk affected by Hurricane Maria to restore their agriculture and fishing livelihoods and adopt climate resilience practices, has been launched.
The project dubbed, ‘Ministry of Agriculture Food and Fisheries Dominica Emergency Agricultural Livelihoods and Climate Resilience Project (DEALCRP) was launched during a ceremony held in the Ministry of Finance conference room on Friday.
This project represents one of the largest investments in agriculture in recent times and is geared at transforming the agricultural sector, according to Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Reginald Thomas.
Following the devastation of Hurricane Maria in September 2017, the government of Dominica with financial support from the World Bank amounting to US$25 million, has started the implementation of the DEALCRP, a five-year period intervention.
“This project, if executed properly, will signal a revival of the agricultural sector from the pre-Maria period…” Minister for Agriculture Food and Fisheries, Reginald Austrie said while addressing the ceremony.
He said the project has four main components.
“Component one is the restoration of the recovery of agricultural livelihoods with an amount of some $21 million,” he revealed. “Component B will deal with the restoration of key production infrastructure and -institutional, livestock and forestry; US$5.2 million is budgeted for that component of the programme.”
Austrie continued, “The third component of the programme includes project management and coordination to an amount of some $2.1 million…and the fourth component will be a contingency emergency response of US$25 million.”
About 4000 farmers and fisher folk will receive support from the agricultural project.
“Farmers, to include crop farmers, livestock and fishers as well as canoe and boat builders, will receive support from the project,” Austrie stated.
He explained that to be eligible, the crop farmers must be involved in farming on a full-time or part-time basis and crop production should be a major source of his income.
“This time public officers are included,” the minister revealed.
He went on to say that crop and livestock farmers must show legal identification and show proof of land ownership or have a legal document of a lease/ agreement for at least 3 years.
“Fisher folk must be registered with the Fisheries Division and be owners of at least a 15 feet boat or larger,” Austrie indicated.
Meantime, Manager of the Project Implementation Unit (PIU), Kervin Stephenson said the implementation of the project is very timely and important.
He said the contribution of that project to restoring livelihood is significant, “to restoring our food security base, to ensuring that we have employment back in rural communities and more importantly, the restoration of our economic base.
Stephenson hopes by the end of the 4 years that there will be a significant contribution made in restoration of the sector and more importantly the restoration of livelihoods, “because Dominica is still very much dependent on agriculture.”
Stephenson stated that agriculture still contributes over 40 percent of rural livelihoods in terms of rural employment.
He added that the project is basically restoring not only the productive base of farmers, but the infrastructure of the Ministry.