The Ministry of Agriculture, last Friday, rolled out a programme in which the government will pay for tractor services on 200 acres of land across the country.
“So if you are a farmer, you need a tractor to clear a piece of land. Instead of going in there with your cutlass and your saw and your hoe, you can get tractor services provided through the Ministry of Agriculture to clear this land,” Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves told the media last week.
“So you go to the operator. It’s five acres of land, three acres of land. ‘I want you to clear this.’ He gives you an invoice, you take that invoice into the Farmer Support Company, or you take it into your extension officer and they will facilitate the payment to that tractor operator so you can get this land cleared,” Gonsalves further stated.
He said the government believes that as one of the few major agro processing countries in the region, there’s an opportunity for St. Vincent and the Grenadines amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
You’re hearing, you’re reading about the shortages in food supply and all of these things. And we think that is our opportunity for St. Vincent and Grenadines to expand some of its export offerings during this time.
“You see where we’ve been consistently exporting to Trinidad and Tobago, we’ve resumed exports to Barbados, we’re receiving demand for products from other places in the Caribbean.
“And we’re investing in agriculture heavily in that regard. And the Minister of Agriculture is also leading efforts for us to get refrigerated containers so that things that would normally spoil quickly can be stored longer.”
Gonsalves said that the government is also providing seeds to farmers free of charge.
“We’re providing reduced prices on other inputs, because we want, just as we’re investing in public works, to keep people employed during this crisis, we’re also investing heavily in agriculture and in the skills of the farmers and fisherfolk of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he said.