Press Release:-“We are going to put all our efforts into revitalizing the agriculture sector as quickly as possible,” said Prime Minister Honourable Allen M. Chastanet before he set off on a tour of the island following heavy rain and winds from Tropical Storm Matthew.
The damage to the sector caused by the storm, which affected the island on Wednesday September 28th, is estimated be well over 80 percent.
The Prime Minister explained that he has already had discussions with several agencies to aid in the recovery efforts.
“The Minister of Agriculture and I have spoken at length about the way forward and this government has already had discussions with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and some countries that have already been assisting us with agriculture.
“We have made very good inroads with the UK market and the supermarket chains there. We will also be testing out the French market in January with 3000 boxes a week,” he explained. “Obviously this event will affect that but we know that the demand is there and the market is there and we are working on making it happen. We need to get production going as soon as possible. We have reached out to donor countries, the Mexicans, the Moroccans and the Taiwanese.”
Prime Minister Chastanet stressed that we needed to build a more resilient and sustainable agricultural sector and operate a surplus government so we can assist ourselves in such situations.
“Agriculture is an immense revenue earner for this country and a lot of families depend on this income,” Prime Minister Chastanet noted. “I know that they have felt in the past that they are on their own, but this government will not let them down and we are committed to the long term development of agriculture in this country.”
As part of further recovery efforts, the Prime Minister, along with other Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and Opposition Parliamentarians, including the Leader of the Opposition, on Thursday received reports on the status of the island from the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), Lucelec, Wasco and other agencies.