CMC’s operations to be restructured to better support farmers, minister says

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Minister of Agriculture, Samantha Marshall. (File photo)
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Local farmers can look forward to increased support following the repositioning of a major industry distributor.

Central Marketing Corporation (CMC) operations will undergo some reconfiguring by the Ministry of Agriculture to provide increased assistance to the farming community in Antigua and Barbuda.

This latest development was revealed by Minister of Agriculture Samantha Marshall during a public consultation with farmers from several districts around the country.

Marshall acknowledged complaints made by farmers that CMC has strayed from its original purpose, which is to provide an avenue for farmers to make sales, and has taken on its own produce enterprise.

However, she assured the farmers that changes are being made to the entity.

“We know that CMC was created initially for a specific purpose. It has, over the years, transformed into another purpose, so to speak, and I have received reports, which I have acknowledged, from persons that they feel that CMC sometimes is creating a problem for the farmers.

“So, we’re now looking to see how we can re-structure CMC so it focuses once again on supporting our farmers,” according to Marshall.

Additionally, Marshall announced that the country’s seemingly high dependence on imported food will be reduced once plans to restructure the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) are drawn up.

“We’re also looking at the capacity of ADC. Throughout Caricom there are a number of Bills that speak to maximizing production. We all have a commitment through Caricom to reduce our food import bill by 25 percent by 2025,” she added.

Furthermore, Marshall reminded farmers that Caricom has outlined certain industry standards that they must abide by.

“We are also asked to ensure that good agricultural practices are done in Antigua and Barbuda as well as every state, that all of us in Caricom follow the same guide which are the phytosanitary legislations that they intend to introduce,” she said.

Nearly 50 farmers from various districts along with senior agriculture officials attended the consultation at Multipurpose Center last week.

It ended with the farmers appealing to the Agriculture Ministry to address water supply, praedial larceny, and financial support issues.

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