Roseau, Dominica: The Prime Minister, Dr. Roosevelt Skerrit, presented the main plans for various areas of the agricultural sector for the financial year 2022/23.
- Expansion of the livestock sector:
He said the government had drawn up a livestock expansion plan to accommodate farmers’ concerns over the rising cost of feed and chicks, triggered by recent world events.
“We have the capacity, infrastructure and systems in the country to increase our local production of chicks, to meet the demand for locally produced chicken and eliminate the need for imports,” the Prime Minister said.
To take full advantage of the poultry market, they must continue to build local production capacity. To this end, the government will invest in an initial ten poultry farmers to increase their capacity to 10,000 chicks.
The intention is to enable local farmers to be able to fully supply the local market with whole chicken, eliminating the need to import. In addition to this investment, the government will also consider a licensing regime for whole chicken imported into Dominica.
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit announced that this fiscal year the government would rehabilitate the National Slaughterhouse at a cost of $3.8 million to improve its operations and production.
He said: “We have already started to restructure the operations of the National Abattoir to adapt to the increased capacity. Our improvement plan will include provisions for processing and special cuts, packaging and branding of chicken and meats. We have already started work on improving our payment system to ensure that payments to local slaughterhouse suppliers are made more efficiently.
Part of the livestock expansion effort also involves the development of locally available pasture and plant species fodder banks, undertaking the research and development necessary to formulate animal feeds using local materials, as well as to subsidize local hatcheries for a specific period of time until they are able to produce the quantities and quality of chicks needed to sustain local production and eventually export.
The government will invest $345,000 to begin exploration for these activities.
- Purchase of agricultural products
Prime Minister Skerrit said once farmers are assured of a reliable market at a reasonable price, they will produce. As part of efforts to incentivize farmers to increase their production, during this fiscal year the government will make available to DEXIA an additional $5.0 million as a revolving fund for the purchase of agricultural products.
DEXIA, through the Multi-Purpose Packhouses, will become the organized buyer armed with responsibility for logistics and packaging solutions to improve the quality, price and consistency needs of our market. These funds will enable DEXIA to expand its role as a key market facilitator and channel Dominica’s agricultural products to our domestic and overseas markets.
In order to equip farmers to take advantage of this opportunity, the government will provide $3.7 million to strengthen at least five (5) new farmers’ organizations and crop production groups to improve agricultural economies. ladder. This measure ensures that producers can increase their food production and are assured of income by having stable buyers for their fresh produce.
- Greater youth participation in agriculture
Prime Minister Skerrit emphasized that Dominica’s youth, and especially qualified young professionals in agriculture and related fields, are seen as a respected resource for the modernization and advancement of agriculture in Dominica.
They bring their technological skills to complement the traditional base of farmers who will help design practical solutions to the many challenges facing the sector’s growth and true potential.
The government is committed to harnessing the talents and skills of our young people to be a game changer for agriculture in Dominica. “We are aware that there are several factors influencing their participation in agriculture, including their farming experience, access to credit and access to land, among others.”
In fiscal year 2022/23, the government has earmarked $1.0 million to support young people with the drive and passion for farming and form alliances to set up on a farm for the first time or to modernize and expand their current agricultural facilities.
This support will include grants for start-up capital, labor and supplies to eligible youth. Through these investments, young Dominicans will be able to strengthen their participation in Dominica’s agricultural sector, boosting overall productivity and increasing personal and household incomes.
- Climate-smart agriculture
“We have developed an agricultural policy framework that is in line with the government’s commitment to becoming the world’s first climate-resilient nation. It outlines a vision for a resilient and sustainable agriculture sector that promotes innovation and technology to ensure increased yields, quality, consistency of production, safe and nutritious fresh produce,” Prime Minister Skerrit emphasized.
During this Fiscal Year, at least fifty (50) farmers who are already in active production will benefit from a greenhouse introduction and repair program, and 40 acres of cultivated farms will benefit from agricultural irrigation units.
During this fiscal year, irrigation systems will be installed in the agricultural communities of Calibishie and Salisbury. The estimated cost of these two systems is EC$486,000.
- Access to agricultural land
He noted that they will also identify and build a registry of vacant farmland that can be brought back into production. They will promote the rental or sale of these 37 plots either directly to the State or to individuals.
The government expects that by next year it will have a system in place to make this land available to interested farmers.
- Reform of extension services
As the agricultural sector grows and becomes increasingly commercialized, technology transfer and advisory services will need to be strengthened and specialized. This is particularly relevant in the context of plans to transition to greater use of innovative, technology-driven extension services.
“Our aim is to reorient extension services towards a demand-driven service supported by a series of demonstration farms owned by government and private farmers. This will allow farmers and new entrants to agriculture to be introduced to new farming techniques, varieties and the use of technology,” Prime Minister Skerrit quoted.