The opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) on Thursday held a consultation in Fitz Hughes with North Leeward farmers.
The consultation was led by NDP President and Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, shadow minister for agriculture, Parliamentary Representative for North Leeward, Roland “Patel” Matthews, and NDP candidate for North Windward, Lauron “Sheara” Baptiste.
In a presentation and question segment that lasted over three hours, the three speakers reiterated the NDP’s position that agriculture is central to the nation’s economic recovery.
Eustace detailed how income support, which he described as a “salary for banana farmers over six months,” would enable the farmers to focus their efforts on the recovery of their fields while being sure that their commitments to family and home could be met.
The Opposition Leader spoke of his work in securing the purchase of the Geest banana business and the 50 per cent share that the Windward Islands have in the joint venture with Fyffes in the United Kingdom.
He said the recent Fyffes-Chiquita merger presents great opportunities for our farmers to benefit and criticized the government for not exploring to discover and ultimately exploit these opportunities to the benefit of the farmers.
Eustace described his effort to negotiate the joint venture, which saw him sit as chair of the board of WIBDECO, as one of the most important contributions he has made to the region and the industry.
Matthews focused his presentation on the opportunities that exist in fishing as well as farming in the community and nationally, and blamed this government for neglect of the farmers and the industry in North Leeward and nationwide.
Baptiste endorsed the views of the other presenters before him and ended the night with a power point presentation, which encouraged the audience to support the NDP in its bid to lead the nation and pilot the recovery of a “critical and important agriculture and fishing industry”.
The consultation in Fitz Hughes was the second of three planned by the NDP. They will target farmers across the agriculture belts of the country.