The tour took place on Wednesday, 8th June, 2011 and among the facilities which were visited are the Taiwanese Technical Mission, Valarie Connor’s Pig Farm, Warrington Grant’s Egg Farm and the Agro Processing Plant. The tour was led by Dr. Harris – accompanied by (among others) his Permanent Secretary Dr. Hermia Morton-Anthony – and attended by members of the Council, led by Chairman Charles Wilkin QC.
Following the tour of the facilities, the group dined at Narvara at Fair View Inn after which a presentation on the sector was made by Dr. Harris which was followed by a healthy question and answer session.
Dr. Harris told MiyVue.com that at the end of the entire exercise, the Competitiveness Council members were aware of “the reality on the ground and therefore…their appreciation of where the sector is and where it is needed to go.”
The Agriculture Minister said that as a result of the tour, the assurance was given that the Agricultural sector has the capacity of transformation. He further indicated to the Council members, however, that there are certain constraints which must be overcome if transformation of the sector is to take place. These constraints include lack of resources (land, finances etc).
“We basically went through some constraints which affect agriculture; availability of land, availability of finance, absence of water etc. All these are constraints and we say if we are able to overcome them, then the sector would be able to do more for the country in terms of job creation, poverty alleviation etc. It is critical especially at this time when the country is at the cross roads economically and the tourism sector is in decline in terms of stay overs, and in terms of total tourism expenditure in the country, at a time when the financial services sector is not … at a time when construction is down, agriculture then seems to be the only hope for the country at this particular moment in time.”
Minister Harris made reference to the Prime Minister’s recent comments, identifying the agriculture sector as the sector which could “turn the country around from this deficit and this negative path of growth”.
Dr. Harris said it is good to identify agriculture but expressed that much more needs to be done.
“…You have to be prepared to increase the budget significantly to the agricultural sector so that all these constraints we have been talking about, we can begin to address them.”