The Ministry of Agriculture with the Dominica Emergency Agricultural Livelihoods and Climate Resilience Project [DEALCR]have conducted 19 meetings island-wide to discuss with farmers and fishers how that project will help them restore their livelihoods lost due to Hurricane Maria.
More than 1800 participants including about 500 women discussed the way forward for the industries as well as their concerns and hindrances.
Kervin Stephenson is the project manager. He reports that one of the more common challenges is marketing of the products.
Stephenson tells farmers that a long-term solution is under development but is also a ways off.
He says, “Since then, we have had meetings with Dominica Export Import Agency (DEXIA) to get that information to them. Farmers who participate in the DEALCR Programme and get inputs will be likely to have [marketing] contracts with DEXIA. We are also going to fast forward the Market Assessment Study which is being funded under the programme so that we can find out exactly what the market situation is exactly with regards to market demand in addition to the local demand.”
A third solution is being called a productive alliance.
Stephenson says, “We will link farmers with markets. We hope to have this project rolled out within the next 2-3 years.”
A second shared concern for farmers is access to their farms.
The project manager reports that part of the Dominica Emergency Agricultural Livelihoods and Climate Resilience Project is to strengthen the Ministry of Agriculture both infrastructurally and institutionally.
This is why an engineering unit will be established through that EC $65m project to directly address the challenge of road access for farmers.
Engineering Unit to be established under programme that will directly solve problem.
“We still have some farmers up to today who have not accessed their farms. We are telling them to apply [to the project] because the more farmers we have from particular areas, we can justify asking for those roads to be fixed. One way to institutionally strengthen the Ministry is for it to establish an engineering unit that will be used for earth movement, irrigation, drainage and access to equipment. With the engagement of an engineer from the [DEALCR] Project Implementation Unit, it will eventually help alleviate the access road problems.”