Stating that the Administration was committed to “the sustained expansion of production in key areas of food production”, the manifesto released tonight said: “In addition, a reduction of the food import bill by at least 25 per cent over the next five years will be pursued.”
To achieve its objectives, the DLP indicated that modernisation of agriculture and fisheries would be key to take advantage of the latest technology to enhance the productivity of the sector and increase the attractiveness to young people.
The manifesto noted that the new DLP Administration would:
“Introduce and enforce modern praedial larceny legislation to help farmers protect their production and provide guarantees and partner with the insurance industry to develop a crop insurance scheme to protect farmers’ investment in agricultural production;
“Lead the search for substitute ingredients to reduce the cost of livestock feed;
“Develop a central information system for major ongoing agricultural production and for marketing activities and conduct a comprehensive market study focusing on the weekly consumption of a range of crops to be produced locally, as well as designing an effective crop rotation system.”
Renewable energy would also be taken into account, the party said, with “fiscal support for investment in greenhouse, hydroponic” and other such technologies, even as it noted that incentives would be provided for climate controlled greenhouses or protected agriculture which resulted in increases in yield over three or six times greater than open field agriculture.
Suppliers who presented relevant invoices as “bona fide registered farmers” would receive agricultural rebates, while farmers organisations would also be given financial support to help increase agricultural production for local and export markets.
The Administration said too that it planned to “reforest the Scotland District with coconut, fruit and breadfruit trees for the supply of food, and with timber for the furniture industry; restructure the land lease programme to attract more young people…; and, implement the Cane Industry Restructuring Project to bring the sugar cane industry to at least a commercial break-even position.”
Discussions would take place with private owners of sugar cane lands to strike agreements to help consolidate farms and effect better management, the use of more technology and increase sugar cane yield.
There are also plans to increase the number of persons trained in livestock farming by introducing a Livestock Management Programme at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic. (LB)