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The Fruits and Vegetables Sector to Benefit from Strategic Investments

Agriculture has been defined to be any business activity that enhances contribution of jobs, income and foreign exchange of the agriculture sector to the national economy and is certified by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Agriculture’s contribution to real GDP from the period 2010 to 2014 averaged 4.25% as compared to an average of 3.02% for the 5-year period prior of 2005 to 2009.For the period 2015 and 2016 agriculture contributed over 5% annually to GDP. Additionally, the agricultural sector accounted for 11.5% of the employed work force and was the second largest employment source by sector with 3626 being Male and 1067 female. (2016 Labour Force Survey).

Moreover, as part of the key reforms undertaken by the Government of Grenada under the Caribbean Growth Forum Initiative, agriculture and agribusiness was listed as a key transformation indicator to achieve economic growth, provision of rural employment and to reduce poverty. Principally, the linkage between the tourism and agriculture sectors was highlighted as having immense potential for structural transformation of the economy. Those reforms undertaken allowed agriculture to be one of three sectors to experience growth in the early years of the Home-grown Structural Adjustment Programme further confirming the potential of the sector.

According to a study conducted by the World Bank on shaping food systems to deliver jobs, it was noted that “food system extends beyond agricultural production. It includes food storage, processing, distribution, transportation, storage, retailing, preparation, restaurants, and many other services” (World Bank, Future of Food –Shaping the food systems to deliver jobs, April 2017).

Modern theory suggests that a strong food system or value chain supported with targeted investments will create permanent employment in predominantly rural communities thereby reducing the incidence of poverty. To strengthen the link within the food system, starting with the agricultural and tourism sectors, Government has begun providing support to MNIB and through its financial investment in MAREP has engaged all the hotels and major supermarkets on the island to ascertain their demand for local produce.

Already a detailed study with concrete proposals for the modernisation of the cocoa and nutmeg sectors were done. Implementation of these proposals with strengthen the commercial value of the sector which will bring more financial benefits to the farmers.

In the 2017 budget million of dollars to target strategic investments were allocated for the fruits and vegetables sub sector. The investments as detailed will address technology such as irrigation systems, shade houses, light power tools, capacity building for farmers, research and development, pest and disease management, inputs and labour support and value addition.

A phase two can see investments in propagation stations, implementation of meat policies, tackling the scourge of predial larceny, fisheries, attracting youth in agriculture among others.

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