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Opposition Concerned About Issues in the Agriculture Sector

Opposition Concerned About Issues in the Agriculture Sector

The Opposition is concerned about reports of unrest in the agriculture sector as farmers are said to be upset that the continuing granting of imports licences for agricultural produce is flooding the local market leading to glut and forcing many farmers out of business. It is understood that there is an exodus of pig farmers leaving the industry as local pork is displaced by cheap imports including major shipments of ham in the run-up to Christmas last year.

“Local processors of ham are said to still have large stockpiles of the product as increased production done in anticipation of a huge Christmas demand remain unsold in cold storage. As a result, the processors have reduced their purchase of pork from pig farmers, who are facing severe financial hardships as a result,” Opposition Spokesman on Agriculture Dayton Campbell said in a release.

The Opposition is also questioning the motive and rationale for the sudden firing of the entire board of the Agricultural Credit Board (ACB) by the Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda earlier this month. The ACB facilitates and regulates credit to the agriculture sector. The ACB spearheaded the strengthening of the People’s Cooperative Bank after irregularities were uncovered there two years ago. The ACB installed retired banker Rex James to oversee the restructuring of the PCB bank.

“It is strange that the Minister has claimed that the board was dismissed effective immediately because it is to be merged with the Department of Cooperatives and Friendly Societies when the Agricultural Credit Board Act has not been repealed and no formal proposals for the proposed merger have been presented,” the Opposition Spokesperson has noted.

Mr. Campbell is also calling on Minister Samuda to say whether the Minister Without Portfolio in the Ministry or the Cabinet was made aware of his intention and reasons for dissolving the Board.