Member of Parliament for St George, Algernon Watts, gave a passionate speech outlining the plight of farmers and the country’s agriculture industry in his response to the government’s budget for 2023.
In his first speech in Parliament, Watts referred to the government’s talk of supporting the agriculture industry by saying “the ravages that we faced due to the pandemic should have taught us some lessons as it relates to food safety, food security and food sovereignty…but it is always said ‘those of us that do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it’.
“In the past, this administration has shown no meaningful effort in supporting local farmers…if we look at the government’s budget estimates for 2023…it speaks to insufficient planning, poor collaboration with critical supporting agencies…absence of agriculture policies…lack of transportation to navigate the agriculture districts…yet we pay lip service to agriculture,” he said.
Watts also spoke about the dreadful state of many farms’ access roads.
“Roads to these farms are impassable…poultry farmers are complaining [that] when they are driving coming out with their eggs, eggs ah smash-up…it is difficult for farmers to bring food to the table under these conditions,” he explained.
He added that the issue of roads also has an effect on police responses to praedial larceny.
“The Commissioner of Police [Atlee Rodney] recently said that the roads are a hindrance to the police; the police cannot get to the farms—it is not stopping the thieves—but the feeder roads are so horrible that even if somebody spots a person on your farm and they call the police, the police…don’t waste time coming,”
H he said.He implored the new Minister of Agriculture Chet Greene to “do better” than his predecessors who include former minister Dean Jonas and Minister Samantha Marshall.( Observer News)