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Fri 26th Jan 2018

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Bad feeder roads choking agriculture to death

According to Warrant Officer Ivan O’Neal BSc (hons) MSc, MBA, the lack of good feeder roads is having a significant negative impact on the agriculture industry in SVG.

Many farmers have complained to Warrant Officer Ivan O’Neal - who spent most of his youth farming in the Georgetown area - that the lack of good feeder roads means farmers often cannot get their produce to market.

The feeder roads are so bad in some areas that many farmers have stopped growing produce, because they know they will not be able to get their produce from the field and down to market.

Farmers have said that the ULP regime has failed to maintain existing feeder roads and these roads have fallen in to such a state of disrepair that they are practically unusable. In other areas, the ULP regime has failed to build new feeder roads needed by farmers to get their produce to market.

The lack of good feeder roads is choking the agriculture industry to death and killing the rural economy. This is a serious risk to SVG’s food security.

The lack of good feeder roads is a big problem for our country and has serious consequences. It means that our farmers produce fewer foodstuffs. This means that the supply of food is less and will cost the public more. It also means that more food is imported in to SVG from abroad and this weakens our economy, as more money is lost abroad rather than being spent locally in SVG.

Since 2011, over $200 million of food is imported in to SVG every year. This $200 million a year should be going in to the pockets of SVG’s farmers, not the pockets of farmers in other countries.

The ULP regime has neglected SVG’s farmers. The ULP regime talks a lot of nonsense about agriculture and has failed to cater for SVG’s farmers’ needs. We will never be able to revitalise the agriculture industry and create a strong rural economy without good feeder roads.

Warrant Officer Ivan O’Neal is calling on the ULP regime to spend some dollars to repair existing feeder roads and build new feeder roads, to help our hard-working farmers get their produce to market.

Feeder roads are crucial to agricultural development. Their relevance to market access of agricultural products underlies every sphere in the agriculture sector. Whatever investment is undertaken in the agriculture sector, if there are no roads for the produce to access the relevant market, the very success of such investment is undermined.

SVG needs to enhance all-season road connectivity between farmers’ fields and agricultural market centres. Farmers need better rural road access. All-season road connectivity to agricultural market centres and vital services improves the delivery of agricultural inputs - fertilisers, seeds, simple machinery—among others, while, at the same time, household incomes are improved through timely access to markets of farmers’ produce.

When the rural feeder roads are in place, farmers’ confidence of venturing into a diversity of crops is boosted. Farmers engage in the growth of even the more perishable crops, since they are assured of timely access to markets, diversifying production and incomes in the process. Good feeder roads open up commercial opportunities and services that make farming a more profitable livelihood for SVG’s farmers and other rural inhabitants.

Good and more feeder roads will boost the SVG economy. The ULP regime must help our farmers and pump money in to maintaining existing feeder roads and building new feeder roads. Stop choking the agriculture industry to death!

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