By Theresa Goodwin
Improving a farmer’s ability to store water and providing further support to agro-processors will be two of the main objectives as the government looks to enter a second agricultural partnership with China.
Agricultural Minister Samantha Marshall made that disclosure yesterday as ministry officials bade farewell to a team of eight experts from the Chinese firm, Longping High-Tech Agriculture Company, which has spent the past three years on island providing support to ministry technicians and farmers in the use of new technologies.
Marshall said although the team’s visit to the island was shrouded in controversy during the initial stages, the partnership has been mutually beneficial.
“Never in my life would I think that we would be able to produce broccoli and cauliflower, especially at the quality that our Chinese brothers and sisters have been able to do. Based upon what we saw many persons have been able to make enquiries to get into this level of production through the Ministry of Agriculture,” she said.
She encouraged farmers and others to build on what they have learnt in order to ensure that the local demand for food is sustained.
“Let us stay focused; one day at a time we will achieve much. I want to encourage more farmers to continue to produce, continue to look at ways where you can maximise your production and ensure that there is quality production,” Minister Marshall said.
As part of the project, the eight agricultural experts were dispatched to work with the local ministry to provide support in the area of vegetable and tree cultivation. Greenhouses were also set up at the Greencastle agricultural station.
Foreign Affairs Minister EP Chet Greene also noted that the government is extremely pleased with what Antigua and Barbuda has gained from the exchange.
“Today, we say goodbye to our Chinese friends who have dedicated time, talent and service to the agriculture sector over the last three years. The value of their work becomes even more prominent as we work our way through this difficult time of human history. With a heavy heart, I say goodbye, but with a buoyant heart I say thank you,” Greene said.
He also added that the second partnership with the Chinese government will be expanded as the government of Antigua and Barbuda works to further the development of the sector.