Our food security depends on imports

We have witnessed it again. Year after year, we are forced to import vegetables from nearby countries following the destruction of our plantations by torrential rains. It is impossible for the country to be 100% self-sufficient in fresh vegetables throughout the year because the climate is not favorable during certain periods.

In these circumstances, the country must depend on imports. But we must be able to produce the maximum during the right period to avoid the importation of fresh vegetables during such periods of calamity. However, the rains, which have been abundant in recent weeks, have filled the reservoirs and 100% of the water tables. Farmers suffer when it does not rain and there is no water for irrigation.

Our country needs a program to revitalize the food crop sector and improve the production of certain vegetables. It is also about seeing beyond what is already done if we want to give agriculture a big dimension in the overall economy of the country. We also need to think about the possibilities of processing certain products to add value and additional revenue to the farming community.

Following the passage of cyclone Berguitta, 75% of the vegetable fields have been affected, affecting nearly 6,000 local growers. In order to relieve the local market in the coming weeks, the Minister confirms that the country will import 50 tons of cabbages, 75 tons of carrots, 30 tons of beans and 15 tons of cauliflower from South Africa, from India, Egypt and China.

A farmer assistance plan has been put in place and includes, first, measures for the rehabilitation of the fields. Once the fields are rehabilitated, seeds from a number of crops, including carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, pawns and giraumon, will be made available free of charge to planters. Each planter will have, in addition, three bags of 25 kg of fertilizer per acre. Those engaged in hydroponics will benefit, for their part, 500 kg of compost per acre grown for the revival of their activities.

In an effort to compensate for the losses suffered by farmers following the disaster caused by Berguitta and subsequent heavy rains, each farmer will receive financial compensation of Rs 3,500 per arpent. In addition, a line of credit in the form of a loan of Rs 35,000 per arpent up to a maximum of Rs 100,000 will be available for any planter of vegetables, flowers and fruits. Available at the Development Bank (DBM), this loan at 3% interest the year is repayable over 4 years. Those of the growers who grow greenhouse crops will benefit from a loan of Rs 75,000 per greenhouse. When cane planters affected by bad weather, they are offered a loan of Rs 10 000 per acre up to a maximum of Rs 100 000 repayable over five years.

In the best case, if the weather recovers, some crops, such as lettuce or herbs, should grow back in a short time. Other products, such as beans, will not, however, be available until at least eight weeks. Still others, like carrots, not before three months. In many cases and depending on the purse of each, canned vegetables or those refrigerated sold in bags are helpful. If the recourse to importation will, somewhat, alleviate the misfortunes of the consumers, they will have to be patient for several months.



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