Commercial farmers who are in the habit of cultivating on more than a half an acre of land will have an opportunity to work with Government in an organisation designed to improve the number of crops produced in Grenada.
Speaking to reporters at the weekly Post Cabinet Briefing at the Ministerial Complex, Minister of Agriculture, Roland Bhola disclosed that his ministry has developed a Co-Farmers Organisation to target areas that are known for abundantly yielding specific crops.
According to the minister, there are farmers in a particular locality that have the ability to do better in certain crops than other areas.
He said the organisation will concentrate and work with them, giving them all of the technical advice, farm labour support, irrigation support, fertilizer and chemicals assistance that are needed.
Minister Bhola outlined the criteria to be used so that farmers can get engaged with the Co-Farmers organisation.
“You must be actively in what you call commercial farming; you must be willing to accept the technical assistance provided and advice provided by the Ministry. You must be willing to keep farm records – this is another area, which farmers in Grenada don’t concentrate on at all. They must sign a contractual arrangement with the Ministry because we want to have marketing to what they going to be producing”, he said.
“…If you are into animals farming, for example you doing pigs, you cannot have less than 10 sows. If you’re doing sheep or goats, you must have at least 20 breeding females, poultry at least 1000 birds at a time and if you’re doing eggs at least 500,” he added.
Minister Bhola stated that they would be focusing on Poultry (Broilers and Layers), root crops, other vegetables as well as traditional crops like Nutmegs and Cocoa, Sour Sop, Spices and Coconuts.
He believes that coconut is taking a new turn on the market.
“We have been pushing the demand for coconut. The demand for coconut is getting greater, not only locally but also internationally and most of you who spending your time by the kitchen you know that when you go to the Supermarket now, you spend $5 and up for a coconut”, he remarked.
“…We are trying to get some new varieties out of Suriname and Guyana
and new varieties meaning that there are more prolific in bearing as well as they bear and stay at a shorter height to make harvesting much much easier,” he said.
The Agriculture Minister referred to one local company that is interested in the coconut oil industry and it can prove to be very beneficial to them.
“There is a local company that has come forward with a project where they would want to start as soon as they can raise the necessary funding to get the machine to start producing coconut oil on a commercial basis – both the regular one we know and what we refer to as the regular coconut oil”, he said.
“…The Virgin Coconut Oil is catching (a) real good price on the international market ….. (and) they believe there are certain medical properties, Alzheimer’s disease, they think it can help cure,” he added.
Minister Bhola pointed out that the state-controlled Marketing and National Importing Board (MNIB) will also have a role to play in the new organisation in the making.
“When a farmer has a crop …and …he can no longer get sale directly to the hotel or the supermarket, there is an expectancy that Marketing Board must take all of what you have remaining. So we want to make sure that if we are going to provide the assistance to you as a farmer who is now part of the Co Farmers Organisation that very early before you start, you must sign a contractual arrangement where we would make sure that whatever you produce has an outlet and most likely that would be Marketing Board because we do have an arrangement.” he said.