AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION DIVISION STAKEHOLDERS MEETING
The Agricultural Extension Division (AED) Stakeholders Meeting is the follow-up of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Barbuda Affairs (MAFBA) Farmers Consultation, held earlier this year where our food-producers were invited to air their views on matters of concern while officials and technicians from the ministry were in attendance to address these grievances. The main aggravations mentioned were not particularly with MAFBA but many present felt that the ministry’s intervention was pertinent.
Prudency was the order of the day. Therefore, the AED took the mantle/challenge and as the first step in seeking an amicable relationship and restitution, a meeting was held on Tuesday 21stJune. This assembly of stakeholders included Farmers, Merchants, Agricultural District Officers and the AED heads (Chief Extension Officer Ag and the Extension Officer Ag). The main matters discussed were as follows:
- The exorbitant cost of inputs
- The laborious process for applicable duty-free concessions
- Penalty applied to shipments that were delayed in clearance from the ports
- Over charged with customs and excise taxes
- The necessity of the phytosanitary certification for Promix and Mulching materials (Antigua & Barbuda is the only country in this region that requires this documentation)
- More conducive and easier accessible loans and credit facilities for the Agriculture Sector
In their defense the merchants/ Input suppliers explained that there were several plights that were negatively affecting and impacting on the prices or cost for supplies. These ranged from the increase in shipping /freight, the tedious lengthy delays in processing licenses/permits, tax waivers, and clearance of goods. Additionally, they too expressed and requested the intervention of the MAFBA. It was agreed that the AED will present a written report to the Minister’s Management team consisting of these constraints and recommendations to resolve them.