Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Hon. Roger Clarke Contribution to the 2014/2015 Budget Debate
Continuing the Growth…Going for Export
Mr. Speaker, this Government was elected on the mandate of “people power”. For us, this is not merely a slogan, but a summons to a greater level of accountability. It is within this context, therefore, that I intend to present my scorecard to this Honourable House, in respect to the commitments I made in this House last year in the Sectoral Debate. It is my intention, further, to outline the critical programmes and strategies that the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries will employ in the current financial year, to move the sector forward.
Mr. Speaker, given the amount of work covered by the Ministry in the last financial year, the number of new initiatives and our many successes, it would be difficult to speak to everything in this presentation. I have therefore tabled today 13 Ministry Papers, detailing our activities and successes. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am pleading with members of this House and the general public to read these Ministry Papers.
Mr. Speaker, before I go on to the specifics, allow me to present an over- view of the performance of the agricultural sector. Mr. Speaker, it is well known that Hurricane Sandy impacted the country in October 2012, and this affected production performance for both the third quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013. It is also a matter of record that severe drought conditions affected the entire island for the first six months of 2013. It is therefore not surprising that in the first two quarters of 2013, the overall agricultural sector declined by 11.3% and 6.3%, respectively. The decline in the domestic food crop sector was correspondingly 12.1% and 5.5%, respectively.
But, Mr. Speaker, the resilience of the farmers of this country is remark- able. Undaunted by the ravages of Sandy, and the devastating impacts of the prolonged drought, our farmers soldiered on, and I am proud to report that by the third quarter of 2013 the sector returned to its positive growth trajectory, with the overall sector growing by 5.9% and 13.1%, respectively, in the third and fourth quarters of 2013. The corresponding figures for the domestic food crop sector are 8.4% and 14, respectively…READ MORE