Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit revealed that agriculture will be one of the beneficiaries from an EC$120 million contribution which was granted from the Government of the People’s Republic of China.
In an effort to introduce what he described as new, technologically-based thinking in agriculture, the prime minister revealed that a new agricultural complex will be constructed in Portsmouth. This, he said, will increase production and productivity and thereby increase the return on investment for farmers as well as foreign exchange earnings.
When complete, the facility will also be home to a centre for training where farmers, prospective farmers and staff at the Ministry of Agriculture will be exposed to advanced technologies in farming, which Prime Minister Skerrit explained will be needed to cope with climate change.
“We have to employ new technologies in farming if we’re to survive in agriculture, because in agriculture we are exposed to increased pests and diseases on the farms, largely due to global warming and changes in the climatic conditions,” the he stated.
Pest management on farms in Dominica is costing farmers 25% of their running costs on average; a figure that Prime Minister Skerrit described as a significant dent in returns for farmers.
“For us to build more resistance in agriculture, we have to look at the source of the planting material and make sure that the stock which we bring in can withstand the pests and diseases on our farms.”
While thanking the Chinese government for its intervention, Prime Minister Skerrit questioned the criticism of Dominica’s relationship with China, stating that it has only ever had a positive impact on the island and its citizens.
“What China has been doing every step of the way, [is] assisting this country with its socio-economic development and every single citizen of our country has benefited from the benevolence of the Chinese people,” he said.