The Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) at Diamonds Estate, is on a good path to enhancing crop production in light of the COVID-19 Pandemic which is still wreaking havoc on many economies across the world.
General Manager at ADC, Mr. Ryuson Joseph said that unlike many farmers who are now extending their production, with its Production and Marketing in Plan firmly in place, Diamonds will continue to execute the various components of its production plan which does not include expansion of land use.
Diamonds Estates occupies some 120 acres and according to the production plan, it is estimated thatbetween January and June, 50 acres would be under production and from all indications, the corporation is very close to that goal.
According to information coming out of the ADC, many root crops such as sweet potatoes, cassava, yam and staples like pumpkin and butternut are currently being planted, as they have a longer shelf life.
The crops which are now available at ADC include; tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, melons, season peppers, eggplants and onions.
Members of the public are further being urged to continue to purchase local produce from Diamonds which operates from Monday – Friday.
The General Manager also revealed that In light of the premature closure of the hotels, more emphasis is being placed on conducting business with the local supermarkets to supply freshly grown produce. Many large-scale farmers have has the hotels as their main markets.
Mr. Joseph commends the ‘stepped up’ approach thatthe government is taking to Agriculture and it must be continued.
According to the ADC, Diamonds could contributesignificantly to reduce the importation of certain commodities including onions as some two (2) millionis being imported annually.
ADC is in the position to produce 50% of what the island needs which is approximately one (1) million pounds of onions.
Mr. Joseph further underscored the importance of keeping current data within the agriculture sector as this can help determine Antigua and Barbuda’s statusin attaining food nutrition and security for the future.
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This is great news. I want to point out two things. 1) the new minister of agriculture seems to have a much better relationship with the various department. It shows what I have bee saying that Dean is simply not a people’s person. He means well but he just cannot and doesn’t have it within him to work with people, especially those that are from the UPP. Next I really hope that government agencies are taking the lead in introducing new techniques. What have we so far learned from the Chinese that we have put into practice in order to farm more economically. Farming in a controlled environment these days is so much more appreciated. And you really do need to be in the hot sun the entire day. The second point is, what was and still is CMC’s mandate in all of this. If I go by the name “Central Marketing Corporation, it tells me that all crops were to be marketed though this corporation. But somehow we dropped the ball and gave CMC a completely new mandate. Instead CMC is nothing but a supermarket buying foodstuff and meat wholesale overseas and selling it. They have a department that caters to the need of the Farmers, by selling all the various fertilizers and seeds. Local Farmers hardly bring their crops to CMC as they prefer to get a little more money themselves right on the market. My question to the minister is, should we repurpose CMC and bring it back as to what it was meant to be or continue on the new path and just focus on importing of goods and meats, thereby competing with the establish wholesale and retailers for the market share. Anyone can see that the latter is an unfair practice and wholesalers/Importers should come together and send a letter of protest to the government.
Seeing from the picture all the onions on the floor, I do hope they have a dryer so they can dry some of the crops that is not sold within the speicfied time period. Dried onion is very nice in various stews and soups. So they can dry it that vacuum pak it in pond or half pond packages. We must take agriculture to the next production level.
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