Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Reginald Thomas, has announced that the government will be implementing a sixty-five million dollar World Bank-funded programme that is intended to restore Dominica’s food base.
Thomas said during an interview on state-owned DBS Radio, “We brought in well over five million dollars of various inputs that are being distributed and we still have access to it and it would continue to contribute to us restoring and expanding our food base.”
He also mentioned an emergency agriculture programmme that is being discussed with the financiers of the World Bank, information about which, he said, will be shared later with the general public.
“The public will be informed of that new initiative, supporting initiative, as it relates to agriculture, ensuring that there is food for consumption of the general public,” Thomas indicated.
Former IMF Economist, Dr. Thomson Fontaine, recently called on the government and the people of Dominica to place more focus on agriculture.
Fontaine made the call in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic which has increased demand for food worldwide.
He believes that now is the time to go back to agriculture.
“What we need to do is go back to agriculture; go back to using what God has blessed us with in abundance which is our soil and it will be able to work to our advantage,” Dr. Fontaine stated on Q95FM recently.
The former UWP senator also used the opportunity to plead for a return to manufacturing stating, “It is time we get serious about our own survival, it’s time we get serious about manufacturing.”
He is of the view that Dominica should be in a position now where it manufactures hand sanitizers.
“Right now, with this virus, the key ingredient for the washing of the hands is alcohol,” Dr. Fontaine explained. “Imagine if we had our bay oil industry up and running, the kinds of monies that could be made by processing sanitizers using our bay oil industry.”
At present, Dr. Fontaine holds the position of Senior Economic and International Policy Adviser to the government of South Sudan, Africa.