PRESIDENT of the Tobago Agriculture Society Macheson Neptune expects to hear the implementation of plans made in previous Tobago House of Assembly (THA) budgets, for the development of the agriculture sector, when the 2018/2019 budget is presented today.
As many are anticipating good news on Tobago’s economy and the allocation to each division, Neptune says all he hopes for is unkept promises over the years to materialize.
Neptune says many promises to financially support and provide the necessary resources to livestock and fresh produce farmers were made but to date these promises remains unkempt and the issues affecting the agriculture society in Tobago remain in existence.
Speaking to Newsday Tobago on Saturday evening Neptune said, “I expect for our special grant to be finally implemented also creating access roads. I am also hoping the agriculture division, food production division as well as the Agriculture Society is given more funding because if they are focusing on agriculture as a priority area, I expect more money to be placed for the agencies that fall under agriculture, so that more can be done to support and facilitate the farmers.”
“Every year for the budget they make these big promises I just hope on Monday whatever promises that are made kept and more is allocated towards agriculture. Whatever plans they have I also hope they are implemented because we have a lot of plans that we made but one of the problems are the implementation of these proposals. We are sure Sandals Resort is coming soon, which would be a great opportunity to revamp the agriculture society and bring back interest for the farmers. There will be a demand and we need to start implementing some things to prepare the farmers to meet these demands.”
Last year an Agriculture Revitalization plan was established by Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles to focus, and promote growth in Tobago’s agriculture sector, preparing Tobago farmers to meet international standards and be able to provide for the coming Sandals Resort.
Neptune said the revitalization plan is currently on halt. “We are supposed to be in the implementation phase right now but we are not not sure what is happening and we haven’t heard from the chief secretary after the plan was presented to us in January.
"A new committee called Sanding Committee under the Division of Food Production and Fisheries was established. We have had one meeting earlier this year and we haven’t heard a word.”
He said the farmers have continued their efforts to boost production of lettuce, seasonings, livestock, cabbage, provisions among other vegetables. Neptune said the farmers are willing to expand their production but are restricted by limited land space and funding.