Former agriculture minister says A&B food supply at risk

Joanne Massiah

A politician who served as agriculture minister during the United Progressive Party (UPP) administration disagrees with current agricultural officials who said the devastation in Dominica would not compromise the food supply here.
Joanne Massiah, Democratic National Alliance (DNA) leader, said Antigua and Barbuda’s agricultural sector will be impacted if the destruction of farm lands in Dominica is extensive.

Massiah admitted that, at this point, the reports coming from the island do not provide a full assessment. But based upon her observations with past disruptions in agricultural production, the food supply chain will be affected.
She explained the issue is not whether food will be available, but locals will want to access the “root crops, fresh fruits and vegetables” they are accustomed to, which come from Dominica.

Referring to Tropical Storm Erica, whose damage was not as destructive to Dominica as Hurricane Maria, Massiah said, “The agricultural sector suffered setbacks with the transportation of goods throughout the region.” After Maria, she suggests, these logistical issues would now pose an even greater threat to the access of ground provisions and fruits that Antiguans and Barbudans enjoy today because Hurricane Maria was so severe.

The politician also explained that there are alternate sources of food supplies in the Caribbean, Latin America and even the southern US, which was also hit by hurricanes this season. But “the further afield we source, the more expensive it would be,” Massiah cautioned.

She added that the region “boasts” organic produce within easy reach, an asset that must be capitalised on.

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