The Ministries of National Mobilization and Agriculture have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to forge deeper and wider collaborations between them.
The signing of the MOU is essentially about making a step towards putting mechanisms in place in terms of deeper and wider collaborations between the two ministries in order to have more vibrant communities that are wealthy and strong as well as resilient.
Chief Agricultural Officer Ashley Cain said the Ministry of Agriculture brings a wide portfolio and a set of skills to the corporative enterprise and the Cooperative Division to the Ministry of National Mobilization, Social Development, Family Gender Affairs, Persons with disabilities and Youth.
The ministry also brings a range of skills and a wide set of responsibilities which, if they are discharged well, would contribute to strong vibrant rural communities and a better nation, Cain said.
“Given what we expect to come out from this collaboration between our two ministries, we expect that it will be good tidings for our farming communities and our rural communities that we would be stronger and better as a nation for this collaboration,” Cain said.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Raymond Ryan said that the signing of the MOU between the two ministries is timely, as it seeks to establish a strategic framework in order to reduce poverty, enhance rural livelihoods and build the production and marketing capacity of rural agricultural cooperatives.
“The Ministries are collectively undertaking 10 major projects and programmes, which address cooperative development, agricultural development and poverty reduction, several of which are externally funded given the availability, the limited availability of resources, the short implementation timeframe and the need to ensure high success rates. There is a need for a structured engagement which builds synergies and clearly defines the roles to avoid duplication of effort.
“This MOU will help to streamline the administration of the projects to be implemented,” Ryan said.
Minister of National Mobilization, Social Development, Family Gender Affairs, Persons with disabilities and Youth, Frederick Stephenson said the MOU aims to pave the way for greater planned and focused collaboration and utilisation of scarce resources for addressing the issues of poverty and unemployment in a practical and sustainable way.
“To this end, EC$350,000 was approved for expenditure under the ‘Community Poverty Alleviation Programme Phase 2’, which is in the Ministry of National Mobilization. This programme is strategically targeting the rural and urban communities identified as critical areas of vulnerability and poverty in the 2007 and 2008 poverty assessment report.
“The Ministry of National Mobilization through the various divisions of the ministry will collaborate with the Ministry of Agriculture in implementing several agricultural income generating enterprises through community groups, cooperatives and vulnerable individuals at risk, this includes youth and single parent,” Stephenson said.
Stephenson, who disclosed that to date there are some 21 farmers cooperatives in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, is hoping that the MOU will enhance and strengthen the structure and the management of the cooperatives with the continued assistance of the cooperative division and the technical persons within the Ministry of Agriculture.
“The cooperatives have to be strengthened to ensure that we don’t only form cooperatives just for the sake of forming cooperatives, but we have to ensure that they are sustained over the period to carry out the mandate which they are called to do, which is, to assist the Ministries in the reduction of poverty throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” the minister said.