ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, CMC: The Grenada government has announced new plans for the revitalization of the agricultural sector including the commercialization of government owned estates before year end and the liberalization of the commodity boards.
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell told a news conference that the plans are also to make use of the small business initiative to target government lands for young farmers and restore direct flights from Grenada to New York in a bid to revive the country’s fish export to the overseas market.
Grenada is regarded as a major exporter of fish to the United States among the nine-member Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) but a decision by the Trinidad-based Caribbean Airlines (CAL) to withdraw its director flight from St. George’s to New York, a year ago, has hampered the fishing sector.
Prime Minister Mitchell told reporters that the new measures to revitalise the agricultural sector need to be implemented as quickly as possible.
“The process has been slow, much slower than we want it to be. I wish I could have done it overnight. But you have to bring stakeholders and their partners on board and in the process we have missed some timelines as far as that initiative is concerned,” he said.
“But we are on the road to this, so a number of our estates before the end of this year will be commercialized with certain guidelines for development and for production and for employment in the agricultural sector as a whole”.
Last week, the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that while the main drivers of growth in the local economy were construction and tourism, agriculture experienced weather-related contraction.
Mitchell said that the international community is in support of Grenada’s effort to merge its commodity board.
“The liberalization of the commodity board. Absolutely crucial. I would say better late than never to get our friends on the commodity boards to understand that present system of monopoly that we operate in a liberalized world community does not work, and that, in fact, after all the consultation there has been agreement to move forward,” Prime Minister Mitchell said.
“We have the support of the regional and international community and financial institution to see that we meet that objective. So I think we will see some improvement before the end of this year by being able to get the commodity boards liberalized. Cocoa and nutmeg in particular,” he added.