by Linda Straker
Farm Labour Support Programme has had mixed results
Workers need to be better trained to competently execute tasks
Agronomy Division is propagating 30,000 nutmeg plants
Agriculture Minister Peter David has told farmers that the Farm Labour Support Programme operated by the Ministry has had mixed results. While some farmers are satisfied, others are displeased with the implementation of the programme. As a result, there will be some adjustments in 2021.
“On the issue of the Farm Labour Support Programme, I must admit that we have had mixed results. While some farmers have been satisfied and have expressed this to me personally, others have voiced their dissatisfaction with the implementation of the program.”
The Agriculture Minister told the farmers during the annual meeting of the Grenada Cooperative Nutmeg Association (GCNA) last week, that following extensive discussion with farmers and ministry officials, they have agreed to make significant adjustments to the programme.
“These adjustments will be in the area of worker training and allowing more farmers to use their own labour rather than the gangs provided by the Ministry,” he said. He informed the farmers that overall, the programme is viewed with great positivity. “There is general consensus that the programme is an excellent one, but the workers need to be better trained in order to competently execute the tasks they are contracted to fulfil. With assistance from the extension division in the Ministry of Agriculture workers in the programme will be equipped with the training in areas needed by the farmers.”
David was appointed the ministerial portfolio of Agriculture Minister in October 2020. He was previously Foreign Affairs minister.
In 2020 the Government said it will bolster the country’s food security in light of the coronavirus pandemic by increasing its allocation to the 2020 Farm Labour Subsidy Programme to EC$1.3 million. That amount was EC$300,000 more than what was invested in 2019.
Under the Farm Labour Support Programme, owners and operators of agriculture farms can apply to the Government for farm labourers — paid by Government — to assist in preparing the farm for production.
Informing the farmers about other changes within the operations of the agriculture ministry, David said that in addition to a restructured Farm Labour Support, the Ministry through the Agronomy Division is propagating 30,000 nutmeg plants to expand nutmeg cultivations and replace old or dead trees. Nutmeg production in 2020 was 1,042,043 pounds while sales during the same period were EC$8,642,045.