The loss of banana income in Marriaqua has resulted in hardships for farmers, the ruling Unity Labour Party’s (ULP) candidate for the constituency, St. Clair Jimmy Prince, said Sunday night.
Prince, a first-time candidate, said he was not making promises to constituents even as he outlined what he hopes to achieve if elected when Vincentians choose a new government later this year.
The former director of the Agency for Public Information, a state media entity, said that for years Marriaqua has been dubbed the valley of green gold and the breadbasket of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“However, recently, this industry has been met with some setbacks, namely poor markets, natural disasters, … and the general cost of production,” he told party supporters at a rally in Richland Park.
“I must admit that the loss of the banana income has caused some hardship to the bulk of our farmers,” he said.
“Because a generation has grown up to manhood by cultivating bananas, it has been the backbone of economic life in the valley. Agriculture, therefore, must remain sacred to the people of Marriaqua,” Prince said.
He told party supporters that he understands the obligations of farming.
“I’ve gone to your houses — house to house — and it is amazing how many single mothers we have farming the ground in Francois, in McMillian in Evesham, all the villages around. So we have to help them,” he said.
“One of my items on the agenda is to explore the possibility of trying to do something for agriculture in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in general, but also particularly for the people of Marriaqua.”
He said the ULP government has been trying to alleviate the hardships of farmers over the years.
Prince mentioned the European Union-financed Banana Accompanying Measures and the state-owned and funded Farmers Support Company, which, he said, has benefitted over 400 persons from Marriaqua.
“As your parliamentary rep, I shall lobby for better feeder roads, so that access to farm land will be made easier. I know the road at Montreal and McMillan are very bad, and Julian [Francis, minister of state in the Ministry of Works,] has told me … that there is a rapid road programme on the way and that will be looked after as soon as possible.”
Prince said he will explore the possibility of a centralised depot in order to ensure the quality of produce so as to fetch a better price on the regional market.
“[I will] also explore the possibility of stabilising the seemingly artificial price for produce sold outside of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I still can’t understand how a sack of dasheen could go from 300 to 30 dollars in a week,” he said.
“I intend to work with Cabinet to strengthen measures against praedial larceny already in force. Thieving is too much of a problem in this constituency.”
He said the government will also have to look at housing and tailor something to fit Marriaqua.
A lot of people need houses in Richland Park and Glenside in particular, he said.
“We have to decide to do something about that, and we will explore those possibilities. So, roads, infrastructure, etc.”
Prince said he will continue the work that outgoing MP, Deputy Prime Minister Girylyn Miguel, is doing on the Richland Park and Cane End playing fields.
“Brothers and sister, I will try my utmost to meet your needs, having regard to the available resources, and the ambit of our possibilities as a developing nation.”
He said that in the meantime, constituents should encourage their relatives, friends and neighbours to get registered to vote.
“Be part of the forward movement. Make history. Give the Unity Labour Party and its leader a fourth term. Vote Jimmy Prince and rekindle the Marriaqua spirit. We can’t turn back now. We’ve gone too far!”
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has said general elections will be held by the end of this year, ahead of the March 2016 constitutional deadline.
Jimmy boy, it’s not some of there income it’s the majority of their income, and the direct cause of that were the failures of the ULP to properly fund the Ministry of Agriculture. Causing the loss of almost the total banana industry and subsequently the markets for the product. All because of the failure to control Black sigatoka by adhering to proper spraying intervals. The ULP and the Comrade as minister of finance are the culprits in reducing farmers to dirt farming peasants. I believe that was part of a revolutionary plan to create a large peasant class in SVG.
During all this time the Labour party and those in charge of the government have become rich beyond the dreams of most Vincentians.
A bag of cash containing a million US dollars in cash hawked around Kingstown, where did it come from and where did it go?
For real Jimmy! You are telling the farmers that one of the items on the agenda is to explore the possibility of trying to do something for agriculture…explore the possibility of trying to do something? So in fact Jimmy, you really isn’t going to do anything for the farmers in the Valley other than explore the possibility of trying to do something? You got to be kidding me, right! Jimmy, you never have to depend on farming so you don’t know. I’m from the Valley and that’s how I grew up, on agriculture. Don’t tell the farmers that you are going to explore the possibility of trying to do something. Tell them what you are going to do for the farmers of the valley and SVG on hold in agriculture and stop this rambling of exploring the possibility of trying…Nonsense…in the words of Gonsalves.
Don’t even talk about sports in Mespo Jimmy! All you ever done for sports in the Valley is come by as a spectator. Not once have you lend support or join a sporting organization in Marriaqua. You’re always on the sideline, as a spectator. Tell us which sporting organization in the valley have you ever been a part of. You were always around to look on at the sporting activities but never got involved in organizing. To me, that is exactly what you would do, if elected, sit around, watch and do nothing. So stop with your possibility of exploring because you know nothing will get done with you or ULP government, other than exploring the possibility of getting done what you know need to be done.
Well to be fair to the man if people in the and around the valley stupid enough to vote for him on what he is promising they cant fault him when he do nothing. He know that he will not be able to do or have no intention of doing anything.
Why are we still looking to depend solely on Bananas? We have to change the status quo. Banana is too vulnerable of a crop for us still be looking at it as a major cash crop. Experience has shown that with a little wind, unfair competition, diseases and drought banana yields would often fall significantly. It’s time to look at other alternatives to supplement banana. Here are some: Irish potatoes, onions, Haz avocados, mangoes, straw berry’s, tilipia farming, mushrooms, bamboo, orchid, goat and sheep farming, poultry farming, dasheen among others. Mespo also needs a farmers/craft market.
The government should have built a farmers market in Mespo instead of waisting monies to build an underutilized Learning Resource Center in Evasham. A farmers market would enable vendors to have a proper facility to sell their fruits, vegetables, homemade confectioneries, poultry and meat products, and craft. It would also serve as a central point where vendors can connect with traffickers.
The next thing you need to do is to establish a proper farmers cooperative in Mespo. This is the only way in which you can meet the quotas which are sometimes set by international buyers. It is also the only way in which we can create economies of scale. Take for example poultry production. The only way we can successfully produce poultry to meet the local demand is through economies of scale.
I am not saying you should discount bananas completely but there needs to be some more viable alternatives as I have suggested. The agricultural industry lacks proper leadership and farmers who listens. We also needs to look at a strategy to penetrate markets in USA, Canada, England.
Banana dead and buried in SVG for reasons that have nothing to do with local politics or policies.
Export agriculture, generally, is nearly dead in SVG for reasons that have nothing to do with local politics or polices.
Even supplying the local demand for agricultural products — fruits, vegetables, and meet — is declining as is the local fishery.
We are destined to become more and more dependent on imported food to satisfy local demand, a process that began the moment the country was colonized.
The food production horse is dead; dismount and look for other sources of revenue.
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