Ministers underscore the need for standards in agricultural output


Trade Minister, E. P. Chet Greene said Tuesday’s National Quality Infrastructure dialogue ought to mark significant changes for the agricultural and fisheries sector of the national economy.

Greene was addressing the opening of the forum held at the American University of Antigua.

The national forum was the latest in a series of similar consultations held across the Cariforum countries under the aegis of the 11th EDF arrangement with the European Union. Greene departed from his prepared text to speak directly to the seriousness he believed that the exercise demanded. He added that it was a ‘seminal’ moment for the agricultural sector that showed growth of three percent during 2021.

“This forum is intended to be a life-changing situation for the agricultural and fisheries sectors as we expect from this dialogue a change in the way we see, a change in the way we do, a change in the way we embrace those two important elements; agriculture and fisheries,” he outlined. The trade minister said he opted to speak extemporaneously in an effort to underscore the point of the significance of the dialogue.

“It is not only about changing the ethos or changing the way we project ourselves for export etc., but also how we treat imports. The dumping must stop! For exports, we need to produce more and have quality attached thereto,” he emphasized.

Greene told the participants that as the government resets the national economy post-pandemic in an attempt to ensure the agriculture and fisheries sectors account for greater productivity, and count on them for export potential, national dialogue is quintessential.

Agriculture Minister Samantha Marshall, in her remarks, said the quality and standard of goods produced by the agricultural sector lie at the heart of the government’s socio-economic development agenda. “Whether for consumption or export, it is a source of national pride that we have a quality-conscious culture here in Antigua and Barbuda that demands the best quality, safety, reliability, efficiency and interchangeability from our producers.

“In turn, consumers will enjoy from us, our best produce,” she declared. Noting that traditionally, Antigua and Barbuda has been a net importer of goods, she said what is produced for local consumption often lacks the high-quality inputs required in markets abroad. Despite the progress being made, she pointed to what she termed ‘a lacklustre’ appreciation for the importance of standards and quality.

“The requirements placed on goods such as agriculture because of tourism, have been less than desired for decades. Emerging from the global pandemic, along with the need for food security and economic diversity, it is of national urgency to see that we address the renewal, repurposing and resiliency of our national quality infrastructure,” Marshall remarked. POINTE XPRESS

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