Ministry of Agriculture pushes ahead with agricultural project between China and Antigua and Barbuda.
4th September 2018
The first meeting of the Local Technical Advisory Committee for the implementation of the Agricultural Technology Cooperation Project between China and Antigua and Barbuda was convened yesterday (Mon) at the Ministry of Agriculture’s Headquarters.
This committee which is being chaired by Director of Agriculture Jedidiah Maxime comprises senior technicians in the ministry of Agriculture, the Chinese team leader as well as members of the farming community.
Mr. Maxime stated that the meeting focused on how the technical cooperation project will be rolled out.
According to Chairperson Maxime, the project has several key components.
The vertical components are the main aspects of the project which would be coordinated by the Chinese.
They include the experimentation component in Green Castle which covers the utilization of smart green house technology for micropropagation and to produce planting material.
The second component which is a demonstration component at Diamond Estate is a commercial demonstration of different production techniques for selected vegetable commodities.
Mr. Maxime further explained that as part of the demonstration component, training will be provided to build capacity among the ministry’s technical staff and the farmers.
There will be a total of 700 training opportunities over the period of the three-year project.
The other component of the Agricultural Technology Cooperation Project between China and Antigua and Barbuda is a tissue culture which is a process of micropropagating different commodities.
Maxime revealed that focus will be placed on specific crops such as the pineapple which has significant potential but the constraint of a lack of planting material has to be addressed.
“And so with our tissue culture technology, we can rapidly increase our planting material to expand the pineapple production in a very short period of time,” Mr. Maxime stated.
The Agriculture Director added that the project has some associated aspects which are referred to as the horizontal components.
These include land clearing and land preparation, pond and dam cleaning and construction and the aspect of agro-processing.
According to Mr. Maxime, in order to support these particular horizontal activities, the Ministry is expected to receive some additional equipment from China.
He said the ministry was earmarked to receive two excavators but because government has already invested in an excavator, consideration is now being given to negotiate with the Chinese to acquire two trucks and an excavator, based on the level of work that will conducted in pond, land and dam clearing.
Mr. Maxime explained , “we will need to have the capacity to haul away debris, and this is an expensive undertaking if government is to finance it, so if we get two trucks as part of the agreement, then we will be able to facilitate the removal of the debris ourselves and reduce the cost significantly.”
The whole focus of this technical cooperation activity and the associated agricultural expansion, according to Maxime, is food security and the ministry is confident that such an initiative is going to significantly increase production.
He said a marketing strategy is now being developed as a separate component to support this initiative.
“We will be having a Consultant facilitated through the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) arriving here in a week to work along with the ministry’s local Focal Point Mr. Brent Georges, in developing a Comprehensive Marketing Plan for Antigua and Barbuda to support the project.”
Meanwhile Permanent Secretary Colin O`Keiffe who was also present at the meeting, said that as the technical committee is the one that steers the project, its work will be intense to meet certain deadlines.
“The committee will provide a guideline to the implementation process. Every aspect of the cooperation between China and Antigua and Barbuda must include local personnel as well as the Chinese, so that our capacity to conduct experiment and research will grow,” P.S O`Keiffe concluded.