Leader of the Opposition, Godwin Friday, is inviting to all concerned Vincentians to join him at an Arrowroot Forum on Tuesday at the Owia Government School at 7 p.m.
“For over 100 years the arrowroot industry has been the economic mainstay of many families in the northern sector of St. Vincent. Thirty years ago arrowroot achieved yields of 30,000 pounds of rhizomes per acre and 5,400 pounds of starch per acre were produced. Today, after much neglect arrowroot yield equates to an average 11,000 pounds of rhizomes per acre and we now produce only about 1,980 pounds of starch per acre. A productivity of only 36.6 per cent,” The NDP said in a press statement.
The NDP said that with the current market price for starch at US$7per pound, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is potentially losing US$23,940 per acre per crop.
“At this low level of yield productivity, we have lost much of our competitive edge in the marketplace, as well as much money from the agricultural sector.“The causes of low yield productivity include poor quality and wrong type of inputs; lack of transfer and adoption of better technology; lack of development funding and support for farmers and farmers organisations; poor infrastructure including farm and feeder roads; and a policy which regard agriculture as a thing of the past,” the party said.
It said the objectives of the arrowroot forum will be, among other things, to:
- Provide a platform for arrowroot farmers to voice their plight and identify the challenges and current issues within the industry that impact their lives.
- Bring the problems of the Arrowroot farmers to the nation
- Listen to the concerns and solicit ideas from the farmers on how to revitalize the arrowroot industry.
“This forum will, therefore, provide a platform for farmers to voice their ideas and perspectives on the development of St. Vincent and Grenadines,” the NDP said.
As the person who negotiated that going US$7 per pound for the starch, I would suggest that markets be found before promises are made to the farmers! Furthermore,a comprehensive study needs to be done to determine scalability with an eye of bringing the price down! I am willing to help…
I hope the NDP will bring to the forum a few ideas to help the farmers improve they yield per acre today. Ideas for where we could market the increase productivity. How much of the market are missing out on because of our low productivity. Con we still sell all that we produce? After that we should hear what is the plan return arrowroot to its glory days. What plans they have to help the farmers finance the expansion of this once vital industry.
Listening to the farmers is a very important role in this process, but unless we bring a reason for hope all we are doing is feeding into their despair and wiping them up into a frenzy with now way go.
TJ, I hope you structure this discussion to yield results to help the farmers today while strengthening your chance lead them tomorrow. You can and should do both for the love of our country and our people.
The government will find a way of stopping this meeting, they will hate this.
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