The two-month old National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell has given Grenadians a glimpse into the policies that it hopes to pursue to revive the island’s ailing agriculture sector.
In recent years, tourism has taken over the exports of agricultural crops like cocoa, nutmegs and mace as the main earner of foreign exchange for the island.
In delivering the Throne Speech to mark the opening of the new Parliamentary session following the change of government in the June 23 general election, Governor General Dame Cecile La Grenade indicated that agriculture will be part of the government’s commitment “to building a solid foundation (and) to grow a more vibrant, dynamic, inclusive, and resilient economy.”
The female Head of State who read from the speech that is normally prepared by the sitting administration said the Congress government plans to prioritise investments in 2023 to bring about what she called “transformative shifts in the traditional productive sectors” of the economy and simultaneously supporting “the expansion of the new areas of economic growth.”
“…Emphasis will be placed on value addition and export sophistication of our agricultural and tourism products,” she told the Joint sitting of Parliament minutes after all elected and nominated members took their oaths from the Clerk of Parliament.
It was the first time in Parliament for all nine of the elected Members on the government side and their 7-member team of Senators.
According to Dame Cecile, the transformational agricultural policy of Congress “will focus on food security by supporting local production and bolstering agro processing.”
“This policy feeds into my Government’s overarching goal to reduce Grenada’s food import bill and nurture a society where citizens turn to local food sources.”
The Governor General spoke of plans to engage in a national campaign that “highlights the quality and benefits of locally grown produce” as the government seeks “to change the mindset surrounding imported food items.”
In the Throne speech, the Dickon Mitchell-led government gave commitments to the following:
- Implement the Spice Replanting Programme and Plant-a-Tree Campaign
- Enhance the Mirabeau Agricultural School
- Restructure the Marketing and National Importing Board (MNIB), to focus on Agricultural Support, Marketing and Procurement Services in collaboration with farmers and commodity boards
- Develop an Agro Processing Services Unit to provide advice, coordinate, and assist entrepreneurs in the development and packaging of their products.
The new Congress government announced plans to pick up from the former Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government on the prospects of trying to inject money into the economy through the marijuana plant.
It gave an undertaking to “invest in the emerging sector of the Cannabis Industry” and to legalise the plant by moving towards the creation of “a legal and regulatory framework for its production and sale” in order “to commence and guide the development of the industry.”
“Focus will be on the medical and industrial uses of the plant, to create employment, and generate foreign exchange,” the government said in the Throne speech.
During the sitting, Chairman of the Grenada Co-operative Nutmeg Association (GCNA), Leo Cato was elected unopposed to the post of House Speaker and Dr. Dessima Williams as President of the Senate.
It was also disclosed that Sen. Adrian “Persuader” Thomas, the former acting Political Leader of NDC, will serve as Leader of Government Business in the Upper House of Parliament.
Two regional leaders –Prime Ministers Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica and Pierre Charles of St Lucia were in Grenada for the historic session which marked a return to Congress rule following back-to-back 15-0 defeat at the polls at the hands of the New National Party (NNP) of Keith Mitchell in the 2013 and 2018 general elections.