Expanding agriculture

estimates2013cynthiafordedwightsutherlandSt. Thomas MP, Cynthia Forde, has made a call for more land for the landless in order to expand agriculture. Forde made this call earlier today in the House of Assembly while speaking on 2013-2014 Estimates. She complained that much arable land her constituency was now taken over by bush. The Opposition parliamentarian called on the authorities to pay more attention to what was taking place on the plantations across the country, and suggested that arable land should be returned to agricultural production instead of being allowed to be taken over by bush or used for housing development. Forde also expressed concern that over the past two weeks every open space of bush has been burnt, disrupting schools in many cases. She however argued that some of these fires were not bush fires, but lit by some wicked persons in the districts. Noting that St. Thomas enjoys one of the highest levels of rainfall in the island, she suggested that the disadvantaged persons in these rural areas should be given access to land on a leased arrangement. “We cannot assume that every young person is not interested in agriculture. There are many young persons who are interested in agriculture, but they do not have the land,” she said. “I believe that more negotiations should be entered into with plantation owners who own large tracts of land so that persons interested in agriculture can be given a five or ten year lease. These new farmers will be able to produce goods for local consumption and even for export.” Forde recalled that some farmers had contracts for sweet pepper and other products, but unfortunately they could not fulfill the contracts because of limited capacity. The veteran MP also spoke out against praedial larceny, adding that her sister’s kitchen garden was raided five times in the past two weeks. She argued that persons who stole animals seem to be professionals based on the skills displayed in the slaughtering of the animals. The former educator also questioned the source of sugar cane being sold on the streets by persons who did not appear to own land. She cited cases where when canes were being reaped, large areas in the centre of the field were already removed. Forde also suggested that meaningful action should be taken to rid the country of monkeys which continue to destroy crops.†(NC)

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