The fortunes of the state-owned Grenada Marketing and National Importing Board (GMNIB) are said to be turning around.
Minister of Trade, Oliver Joseph who is charged with the responsibility of overseeing the operations of Marketing Board provided a performance report on the entity to the Lower House of Parliament at a recent sitting.
Minister Joseph said GMNIB’s gross sales for the period January to September 2015 surpassed the same period last year by five percent.
He said gross sales amounted to $17.3M as compared to $16.4M in 2014.
The senior Government Minister told Parliament it is projected that by the end of the year, gross sales at Marketing Board will reach $24M as against $23M in 2014.
Minister Joseph also reported that there was an increase in the amount of produce purchased from farmers.
He said fresh produce purchased from farmers between January and September increased by 58 percent, moving to 3.7 million pounds valued at $5.1M.
Produce exports increased to 905,000 lbs as compared to 638,000 in 2014.
“The (Grenada) Marketing (and National Importing) Board continues to perform well under their strategic plan to provide services to the farmers,” Minister Joseph said.
GMNIB is also putting measures in place to practice good food safety.
According to the government minister, Marketing Board was able to source grant funding in the sum of US$200,000 from the Caribbean Development Bank to assist in improving on its standards so as to get HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) certified for food safety.
He said the Government of Grenada will also be pumping in $100,000 for the same project, while GMNIB has to provide the one million dollars that is necessary for the project.
“When you’re dealing with food safety and food handling… you have to be extremely careful. There are certain high standards that are set, that must be met, and the (Grenada) Marketing (and National Importing) Board will invest US $1M next year to upgrade all their facilities,” he added.
Earlier this year both Houses of Parliament passed the Food Safety Bill.
However, Farmer’s Representative in the Upper House of Parliament, Senator Keith Clouden believes the board has lost its focus on the original intention.
In his contribution to the debate on the 2016 budget in the Senate, Sen. Clouden said GMNIB which is a product of the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution has been politicised to the extent that much of its focus has been lost in purchasing farmers produce geared for export.
Sen. Clouden claimed that it was a bad decision of GMNIB to have purchased the RBTT building at Grenville, St. Andrew’s at a price of $2.6M to establish an outlet in that Parish.
He indicated that just a “stone’s throw away” from the building is the farmers’ market, which now cause the farmers to face fierce and stiff competition from GMNIB.
The Farmers Representative also condemned the campaigns GMNIB consistently put on as a means of enticing customer sale, and lowering prices.
He claimed that this is being done because of the inability of the board to find market for the produce that it purchased from farmers resulting in considerable wastage of agricultural produce.
“They have been trying to purchase everything that farmers produce without securing external market… I see the extent of dumping… I have pictures of it… the amount of dumping, you see vehicles leaving the MNIB compound and juice, substance from the produce flowing out of the vehicle,” he said.