Agriculture officials here reported that the Hillsborough Horticultural Centre is completely destroyed. The Centre was funded by the Chinese Government and played a key role in the overall enhancement of the agricultural sector.
The facility however was destroyed by the raging waters of the Layou River following the breach of the Mattieu Dam early Thursday following persistent showers Wednesday evening.
According to Lennox Timothy, foreman at the Hillsborough station, the entire production area, that’s the field where planting is normally done, this entire area is covered with sand.
On Friday, a delegation from the Ministry of Agriculture including the Hon. Minister, Matthew Walter, and the Permanent Secretary, Samuel Carrette, visited what was left of the facility in an attempt to salvage what was left from the disaster.
Director of Agriculture, Ricky Brumant, said that that the Division of Agriculture is happy to assist the members of the Chinese Agricultural Technical Mission in clearing up the site.
“What we’ve done basically is mobilise all the staff that we have from the division of agriculture, some from the out regions as well. They came to just help mop up, clean-up, salvage some of the things that we have so we know basically what we’ve lost. We are just picking the pieces. We do have some students from Dominica State College who are on attachment from their programmes at college. They have been with us from the beginning of July and like anything else they have hands and feet and energy so we have asked them to come on board,” he said.
Meanwhile, Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Matthew Walter, reassured the farmers of the country, that the Government of Dominica will take action to ensure the re-establishment of the Hillsborough Horticultural Centre.
The centre was geared at improving Farmers capacity and was the main producer of seedling materials for distribution to farmers.
Speaking after an extensive tour of the shattered centre, Walter described the disaster as a “heavy blow” to the agricultural sector.
He told GIS news that Government will meet to identify a suitable location for the re-establishment of the centre.
Despite over $8-million in losses, the Minister said that the Ministry is not daunted by this act of nature but is rather confident that the agricultural sector will rebound.
“Government has invested heavily in this centre and we will ensure that the Hillsborough Horticulture Centre will be relocated somewhere else so that farmers of this country will be able to resume the delivery of the services rendered by this facility,” he said.
Walter also expressed his deepest compassion to the government and people of the people’s republic of china especially members of the Chinese Agriculture Technical Mission who have contributed tremendously to the development of this horticultural centre.
“Certainly, I have spoken to some of them. I have not spoken to the embassy but I intend to do so as soon as I leave here so that we could begin to trigger the discussion as a way forward for the re-establishment of this facility,” he stated.
The Minister also advised the farmers to remain resilient, despite the odds.
Though in the interim the destruction of this centre will create a setback in the delivery of services to the farmers but they must not lose hope because the ministry and government of the commonwealth of Dominica will ensure that we work in an expeditious manner to ensure the re-establishment of this centre and also, in quick time, the delivery of goods and services to the farmers of this country.