NDC calls on government to assist GCA in difficult times

The Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government has been called upon to take

In making the call on Monday during the weekly press conference of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Caretaker for the constituency of St. Andrew North-west, Phillip Alexander, said it has been brought to his attention that the Grenada Cocoa Association (GCA), has not been able to purchase wet cocoa from farmers since early December.

According to Alexander, the “farmers in Grenada are crying out saying that there are lots of ripe cocoa on the trees,” but are having difficulty in selling their produce due to the financial challenges being faced by the association.

“We are all aware that most of Grenada’s farming is done on the basis of mixed cultivation,” Alexander pointed out, as he called on the “Minister of Agriculture, Yolande Bain-Horsford, to make some sort of immediate intervention to assist the farmers of this country, especially the cocoa farmers and the cocoa association in this difficult period.”

He stated that “the issue of distribution of wealth and income in the country would be greatly affected if the cocoa farmers are unable to sell their produce,” and if immediate action is not taken to address the issue.

Alexander recalled that back in 2012, the NDC intervened when the nutmeg farmers were having difficulty and went as far as providing financial support to the tune of $1.5 million to ensure that farmers receive their bonuses.

He spoke of “tremendous efforts (that were) made to resuscitate the cocoa and nutmeg industries under the former NDC government of Tillman Thomas,” stating “now that the farmers are reaping these benefits, it is imperative that we do not allow these efforts to go down the drain.”

Alexander noted that not too long ago the NNP regime came to the rescue of the Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association (GHTA) on an issue involving the rate of tax to be paid.

“They (the government) intervened and lowered it. They (the government) have also acted on the issue of firearm license…so in this instance I expect them to do no less and to act speedily to assist the GCA so that the farmers of this country can benefit,” he remarked.

Speaking on the burning issue via a telephone interview with THE NEW TODAY on Monday afternoon, the female Agriculture Minister affirmed that she had made contact with GCA earlier in the day and confirmed that she will be meeting with GCA officials “this week” to discuss the way forward.

This newspaper was unsuccessful in its efforts to contact GCA’s General Secretary, Andrew Hastick for a comment on the financial challenges facing the association.

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