The Chapmans Community Centre came alive last night Thursday Feb 27, 2014 as a packed hall of farmers from across the breadbasket constituencies in St. Vincent and the Grenadines were treated to detailed proposals and ideas on agriculture and how the industry could be revitalized from the New Democratic Party. The audience of farmers who have seen their fortunes reduced over the past thirteen years heard from the Leader of the Opposition Hon. Arnhim Eustace himself a farmer, on how to revitalize the banana industry. He presented a detailed proposal and asked the farmers for their thoughts on the plan which would see the farmers receive subsidy on inputs and income support while they re-invested in banana production. According to Eustace this would see the industry rebound to exports of 40-50 million.
Farmers then heard from NDP’s Shadow Minister on Agriculture MP for North Leeward Hon. Roland “Patel” Matthews who said there is a magnificent opportunity to return the agriculture industry to being one of the major contributors to our nation’s macro economy. Matthews stressed modernization, and the use of technology and encouraging our youth to see agriculture as a viable business, where markets for new commodities can be found, using the infrastructure we already own in the UK to provide new produce to the supermarkets with whom we already do business.
Candidate for North Windward Lauron “Sheara” Baptiste using a PowerPoint presentation echoed the sentiments shared by the other presenters and showed how the North Windward constituency and other farming constituencies could benefit from a vibrant industry. His presentation which culminated with a slide showing people moving towards a safe haven in the NDP was warmly received by all. Candidate for Central Leeward Ben Exeter was on hand, with farmers from his constituency also in attendance; likewise, NDP’s Candidate for Marriaqua Curtis Bowman and South Windward’s Candidate Noel Dickson.
The farmers, in the open forum, took the opportunity to outline the challenges they are facing, and how the state of the economy was making it virtually impossible for them to sustain their livelihood. They continue despair over the situation, and they endorsed the plan to revitalize the banana industry. Many saw the event as a call to arms for farmers to do all in their power to ensure that the NDP gets the opportunity to lead the nation and their industry back to a position of prominence and strength. The NDP will continue its outreach to communities in the weeks and months to come. The Consultation was carried live on Nice Radio and chaired by NDP’s candidate for North Central Windward Kenroy Johnson.