DFP political leader Kent Vital
DFP political leader Kent Vital

In last week's article we recognized the importance of agriculture to our country. A Freedom Party Government will pursue a holistic approach to developing a strong and prosperous agri-business sector. Hence, in addition to the six promises we laid out in last week's article, here are some of the other strategies we will pay attention to.

We will need to attract investments into the industry including the fishing sector. There must be investment in appropriate technology in order to the competitiveness of our agriculture, fishing and agro-processing and new players will have to be attracted. Take for instance fishing activity, while the culture has to be adjusted, the use of larger fishing boats will be encouraged. Moreover, we will work assiduously to support our exporters and manufactures such as those involved in the processing, packaging, and export of sweet-potato flour, sea moss, fish or fruit juices. We will encourage them to expand their operations and to do so we will put in place the appropriate institutional frameworks that are transparent and efficient.

Access to appropriate financing is a key constraint for expanding agri-business in Dominica. Often entrepreneurs rely heavily on loan financing. But many otherwise good businesses fail because they are over-leveraged. Hence, we will take steps to expand the range of financing options available to agri-businesses. These options are to include export financing and venture capital along with the supporting systems such as financial counseling and the provision of appropriate technical assistance.

It is totally important to invest in agricultural infrastructure including the restoration of our feeder roads and off-farm irrigation. For more than ten years up to this point in time, the Dominica Labour Party has neglected farm access roads! What a shame! Many farmers are not going to their farms currently partly because of the bad conditions of farm access roads.

Another important area will be the promotion of increased cooperation among farmers and other agri-businesses. We often don't fully grasp the power of cooperation. We have had some successes in the past including the cooperation arrangements that supported the banana industry when it was in its heyday. But if we think through carefully, and if we put in place appropriate cooperation arrangements along commercial lines, we can achieve greater competitiveness in agri-business.

Moreover, there is power in demonstrating capabilities and possibilities, and we will strive to do just that in the area of agri-businesses. Thus, among other strategies we will showcase successes especially those involving young people.

An important area will be the promotion of framing and production techniques, and institutional arrangements including crop insurance, that can support the quick recovery of the agricultural sector in the aftermath of a storm or hurricane.

Importantly too, we will provide logistical and marking support to hucksters towards increasing the success of that trade.

We in this re-energize Dominica Freedom Party, are excited about the scope to develop a strong agricultural tourism offering. This will include encouraging the establishment of guest accommodation on organic farms including those along the Waitukubuli National Trail and those in close proximity to other unique natural attractions. This is why we will promote strategies to empower farmers towards this area. Such strategies will include training, the seeking of joint venture partners for farmers, and the provision of technical advice. Hence, farmers you don't have to simply resort to selling your land. Let your children know that the Dominica Freedom Party has plans to lead our country into agricultural tourism that will greatly enhance farm incomes.

It will be the appropriate balance of all of the above strategies and those we spoke to in the last article, along with the supporting policies, that will yield the best results in developing thriving agri-business. Unfortunately, the current government seem to think that they can simply make a few meager dollars available at the Agricultural Industrial and Development Bank and farmers would rush to take loans! What foolish strategy! Sometimes the current Labour Party Administration talk but they don't deliver! Just look where we are as a nation under the current administration – weak agriculture, high unemployment, high poverty, very little to make young people excited about our country, and the list can go on and on. What a failure and lack of vision of this Labour Party Administration!

So indeed, we can build a prosperous country and the agri-business sector can make a great contribution towards that.

Let us go places with Freedom!

Kent Vital

Political Leader Dominica Freedom Party.