ST. VINCENT: – Stakeholders in the agricultural sector need to take more initiative to benefit fully from the technical and other assistance that Taiwan offers.
“…It seems to me that [the Taiwanese] are doing almost sometimes too much. That is, they [are] letting some of us off the hook,” Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace told Parliament this week.
He was speaking about the extent to which the Taiwan Agricultural Mission goes to aid Vincentian stakeholders in the cultivation and marketing of some agricultural produce.
Eustace said the uptake by local agricultural workers and farmers, particularly in relation to commodities that the Mission had recently introduced to the country, has not been as good as thought.
He said this put greater pressure on Mission staff to get increasingly involved in elements of the production that should be undertaken by Vincentians.
“I find it has come to some ridiculous levels now,” he said.
The Taiwanese recently started a programme that saw them offering technical assistance, in addition to helping with the planting, harvesting, transportation and marketing of agricultural produce, on behalf of local farmers, Eustace said.
“So what are we doing? I believe a lot more attention has to be paid locally. And I don’t believe this is a government function. I see this as people locally taking up the opportunity this is being offered,” the former prime minister said.
“I put the blame squarely at our own feet. I believe we have to make a greater effort to take up these commodities, especially where there is a market here locally. I am not even talking about overseas.
“We need to take more initiative ourselves to ensure that we benefit more fully from the assistance that is offered,” he said.
Eustace comments came as he gave his New Democratic Party’s “fullest support” to a motion tabled by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. (Follow I Witness-News on Facebook)
The motion resolved that Taiwan, “deserves appropriate and meaningful participation in the United Nations and its related agencies including the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)”.
The motion also said it was the policy of the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to support Taiwan’s continued participating in the World Trade Organisation, and encouraged the ICAO and the UNFCCC “to take action to comprehensively accommodate Taiwan”.
Gonsalves had spoken of “the familial nature” of the relationship between SVG and Taiwan “on a wide range of matters” including infrastructural development, education, healthcare and technical assistance.
China says the self-governed Taiwan is a renegade province to be reunited with the “mainland”. This has led to political isolation of the Asian island and its 23 million people.
SVG is one of about 24 countries that recognise Taiwan, the world’s 17th largest economy, as a sovereign nation.