Agriculture Minister Saboto Caesar reported on the fiscal outcome of the worst drought to impact St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ agricultural sector in 50 years. He told Parliament on Thursday August 13 that the losses amounted to EC$16M and were spread across all 3 food producing districts.
“The losses to overall production are estimated at 16 million Eastern Caribbean dollars. It is broken down by commodity and the values are as follows: Bananas $762, 000; Plantains $4.3M; vegetables $6.1M; root crops $4.4M; herbs $243, 000; other commodities $526,000.
“Mr. Speaker, losses by agricultural regions – Region 1 $3M and that is from Richmond to Lowmans Leeward; Region 2 $3.4M and that is from Lowmans Leeward to Peruvian Vale including the Mesopotamia Valley and the Grenadines – those areas are accounted for as well in Region 2. And Region 3, Mr. Speaker, $9.9M and that is from Peruvian Vale to Fancy.”
Minister Caesar also noted that “Drought 2020 has been recorded as one of the worst droughts experienced in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the last 50 years, impacting on all types of agricultural production.”
Caesar told the nation that COVID-19 “compound[ed] an already challenging period” by causing “uncertainty in farm workers’ timetables and interrupted trade.” Additionally, he posited, increased regional and international border restrictions also hampered trade in the sector as well as “delays in the supply of inputs as a result of impacted shipping lines.”
The Agriculture Minister declared that his team “redoubled its efforts to ensure that the factors of production needed to sustain a viable sector are maintained.”
Farmers continued to register to take advantage of the Drought 2020 recovery support measures up to Monday August 10, MP Caesar said, “at 30 registration centers across St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
Since the objective is to expeditiously “capture the information” the registration process would run until Friday August 21, 2020. MP Caesar also advised that farmers “register in person with both a national and farmer’s ID card.”
Ceasar, an incumbent MP seeking his 3rd term in office, lauded his government’s commitment to “all stakeholders in the agricultural sector, agri-processors and the fisheries sector” as they strive “to mitigate both the devastating consequences of climate change as experienced Drought 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic.”