ROSEAU, DOMINICA — The million-dollar agriculture industry in the Commonwealth of Dominica could be on the verge of a huge boost as several organizations recently came together to host a workshop with the view to bolster cocoa exports to global markets.
One of the workshop’s overall aims was to improve the quality of the exports — a plan expected to increase access to international markets, “thereby increasing our international competitiveness and the sustainable production of goods and services within CARIFORUM states”, according to Dominica Bureau of Standards Director Median LaRocque.
“For us here in Dominica, cocoa, as an important export crop, is one which is steeped in Dominican history… Over the years, production and exports of cocoa have declined,” LaRocque noted.
“There has, however, been a conscious effort to revitalize the sector and the government has initiated a number of projects and activities.”
The director’s assertion appeared to complement the Dominican government’s decision to allocate nearly $32 million to the Ministry of Blue and Green Economy, Agriculture and National Food Security in its 2021-2022 National Budget; as well as Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Roosevelt Skerrit’s announcement that an Agricultural Development Authority will be formed to further guide the industry.
Dr. Reginald Thomas, of the Ministry of Blue and Green Economy, Agriculture and National Food Security, said the focus is all about bringing workers back to the fields.
“For the producers, whom we have direct contact and impact on, we want to encourage as many people back into this sector,” he said.
“We have done cost of production and other business models to show the lucrative nature of this commodity, so we just want to invite as many people as possible to join in this business and to earn a livelihood that we can we can be proud of.
“The land is there for our production, the environment is ideal and so, we have everything that is necessary to get us on the right foot.”
According to local facilitator Dr. Ian Lambert, who was addressing members of the media, the workshop strived to conclude with an action plan to “take the industry forward within the next 12 to 18 months”.
The initiative’s regional facilitator, the Caribbean Regional Organization for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), noted workshops will also be held in other Caribbean nations in an effort to “create an action plan for the cocoa industry”.
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