The financial year 2019-2020 ends next month and the Hon Minister for Finance has announced that he will increase the budget for agriculture.
This supports a previous statement that the sector will be a pillar for rebuilding the local economy after the damage of the coronavirus pandemic to global finances.
Hon Prime Minister who is Minister for Finance, Roosevelt Skerrit announced that this increased funding will reflect the importance of the sector.
The measure also mean support for 2,500 farmers who have long complained about the cost of farm labour.
“What has been made clearer than ever before is the importance of enhancing our food security and improving export earnings from this sector,” he said in an address detailing fiscal measures for local economic support.
“We are also committing to spending an additional EC $10 million under the Contingency Emergency Response Component of the Emergency Agriculture Livelihood Project,” he said.
A project funded by the World Bank, the development objective of Emergency Agriculture Livelihoods and Climate Resilience Project is to contribute to restoring agricultural livelihoods and enhancing climate resilience of farmers and fisher folk affected by Hurricane Maria in Dominica.
Hon Skerrit said further that, “Support will be provided to crop and livestock farmers. This will include the provision of planting materials, essential inputs such as fertilizer, small farming implements and animal feed.
“To assist with meeting the cost of farm labor and other direct costs, cash grants have been approved for approximately 2500 individual crop farmers,” he detailed.
Farmers with small holdings will receive $700 grants, medium sized holdings, $1400 and large farms, grants of $2800.
This intervention alone, Hon Skerrit says, will cost government $3.5 million.
Additional planned investments in agriculture should encourage growers to produce as much as possible.
He continued, “We also have an ambitious seedlings project as well as direct assistance to pork and poultry farmers. We are confident that the interventions by the government will help lower the food import bill, reduce household expenditures, improve dietary quality and increase sustainable employment.
“We should also see higher export volumes and increased income for families.
Residents are encouraged to produce as much as possible “while government is doing its part to ensure that there are markets available for the sale of your produce.”
Government has said it would purchase produce and fish from farmers directly.
“Some of this produce will also be distributed to the most vulnerable in our communities. An amount of $3 million has been set aside to facilitate this program.