Directors General of IICA [Inter-American Institute for
Cooperation in Agriculture]
Distinguished Friends on the Platform
Sisters and Brothers from neighbouring Caribbean
It is really a pleasure for me this morning to be able
morning to be able to welcome you to our country. Particularly, it is a
pleasure because of the number of countries and regional and
organisations which have managed to come to this workshop.
In fact, we have 18 countries and 12 regional and
organisations present and that, of course, is a very significant thing
it does say that a lot of people in the region are concerned, not just
agriculture in the sense of the traditional crop, but also about
of diversifying agriculture and moving more and more into new areas of
This whole business of fruit trees has not been one of
popular areas, certainly not in the English-speaking Caribbean.
I am also very happy this morning because what we have
represented here today is not just our sisters and brothers from the
English-speaking Caribbean, but also from the wider Caribbean and from
America in general.
In fact, there are not only people who speak the
language, but French, Dutch and Spanish, and that is very important to
because part of the thrust of the Grenada Revolution has been precisely
area of trying to develop and to widen contact with our sisters and
throughout the entire region, regardless of what language they speak or
country they come from.
The third reason, of course, that makes this morning
is because we are dealing with extremely important areas and this
hopefully will help us to analyse in some depth, in some detail, some
problems facing traditional and potential fruit crops in the region.
We do hope that out of this period of analysis and
this period of assessment, will come the beginning of some solutions
problems faced in each area.
And I am sure that over the next few days the countries
to spend a lot of time looking at the question because there is a field
component to this workshop, there will also come some very useful
for our own development of fruit tree crops in Grenada.
May I make two apologies Sisters and Brothers. The
first is for
the absence of Cde. Unison Whiteman, our Minister of Agriculture, who
unfortunately out of the country. He had to leave at fairly short
notice, and I
know he very much would have liked to be here with us all this morning.
The second is the absence and lack of translation
I do hope this will not mean that some of you are not always able to
what is being said.
Agriculture is the motor and the heart of the Grenada
This fact is, of course, true for many countries in the Caribbean and
For us it means more dollars, more earnings for our
more foreign exchange.
For us it also means more food for our people. These
are all very
important reasons why agriculture is so very important to the economy.
It is also, as we see it, the base, the natural base
industrialisation that will take place in our country in a serious way.
We wee it, therefore, as being the source and the
future for the
development of the economy and in general the development of our
But agriculture, of course, has had its problems over
years. Last year, for example, we imported fifty-seven million dollars
worth of food and food products.
But in that same year, with earnings from nutmegs,
bananas mainly, we were able to receive fifty-eight million dollars
($58,000,000). In other words, a balance in our favour of $1,000,000
More than that, last year the overall imports into our
were valued at one hundred and seventeen million dollars ($117,000,000)
had an overall deficit of sixty million dollars ($60,000,000).
This had to come from remittances from nationals
earnings in the tourist sector, and also from external grants.
If we are to break this dependence of our economy,
because we do
have an open dependent capitalist economy, then it is for us to greatly
production in agriculture over the next several years.
We see the growing of food, in particular, as being a
component of any agricultural strategy, because I am sure that you will
that if anybody on a desert island, for example, was asked to come up
short list of items of products that he had to have to survive, the top
list would surely have to be food.
We have found that the state sector in agriculture has
largely dependent on export crops and mainly on the tree crops of
cocoa and bananas.
The sector in our country comprises some thirty estates
average is about 150 acres to each estate.
The total average on all of these estates is just over
acres. It is relatively small, but yet it has been subject to
over the years.
In 1978, for example, operating costs were in the
excess of one
million dollars ($1,000,000) while revenue that came in was somewhere
two hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($250,000).
By that, it is clear that the tax payers had to
agricultural sector, the state sector in agriculture, to the tune of
like $3/4 million.
Last year we were able to reduce that deficit somewhat.
earnings went up to about seven hundred thousand dollars ($700,000) and
state farms were able for the first time to make small profits.
We believe that by a series of incentives for the
will be possible to go on to increase these earnings for the state in
agricultural sector even more.
We have introduced, for example, a profit–sharing
which the agricultural workers for the first time will be able to share
of the profits which they make.
The basis plan is that of any profits made 1/3 will go
the state, 1/3 will be used on the estate or farms for the purpose of
increasing production and providing more inputs on the particular farm,
will be shared among the workers.
That incentive, of course, will be an important one.
Likewise, we have introduced the policy of equal pay
work for women on the government estates in the country and we
that the private sector will follow this example as rapidly as possible.
An emulation scheme also has been introduced under
month the agricultural workers get together and discuss the problems on
farm, look at the question of projections and targets, discuss why they
reaching their targets, or if they are reaching them how and why they
In other words, the policy is to fully involve them and
encourage them to participate in the running of the particular state
because our principle is that there must be no secrets from the workers
Everything that is taking place in a particular work
place and in
the economy of our country as a whole, must be open and subject to
national scrutiny and debate.
And as part of this emulation process these workers
will be able to choose, where that process has not yet begun, a worker
month for each State farm.
In small areas like that, we believe it is going to be
to make some impact and begin to push forward at a more rapid and more
meaningful pace to further development of agriculture in our country.
Insofar as the private sector is concerned, in the area
agriculture, you will find that all agricultural land holdings in our
total about 40,000 acres, and about half of these agricultural holdings
the bracket of 100–500 acres.
In our country, we have something like 87,000 acres of
there are, as I said, 40,000 in agricultural holdings.
We estimate that perhaps 55,000 acres are cultivable
fact, a lot of it is not cultivated. Somewhere around 15,000 acres
unutilized or grossly under–utilized.
So you have this picture of half of the land holdings
into this particular bracket (100–500 acres), but at the same time, it
precisely in that section of ownership of agricultural holdings in the
country that the greatest amount of uncultivation and under–cultivation
The figures that we have from about four years ago
32%, just about 1/3 of all the land in the bracket 100–200 acres is
At the same time, in the bracket of 200–500 acres, some 68% of all the
This is bad enough. But what compounds it to make it
unacceptable, is that we have had a continuous decline over the years
amount of land being cultivated. This drop has been, quite frankly,
In 1961, for example, there were over 50,000 acres of
land or 71%
of the total land under-cultivated. By 1972, eleven years later, this
fell to 56,000 acres of 66% of the land being cultivated, and by 1975,
figure had fallen to 46,000 acres of land or 54% of the land being
At the same time, the pressure for the land and the
population/land ratio in the country, generally, has equally continued
In 1961, there are 140 Grenadians to every hundred
acres of land
that we had. By 1972, eleven years later, this figure had become 151
to every hundred acres.
By 1975, three years later, this figure had become 218
to every hundred acres, and now by 1980, our estimate is that perhaps
about 270 Grenadians to every hundred acres of land.
That just tells us that not every Grenadian who would
like to own
his own piece of land is going to be able to achieve that ambition
apart from the over 100,000 Grenadians in Grenada, there are well over
Grenadians scattered throughout the metropolitan centres and different
countries in the Caribbean, and all of them also have deep
aspirations—patriotic aspirations—to own a piece of their mother land,
obviously that is not going to be possible.
That just means that part of our strategy is going to
have to be
to find a way of bringing all of the idle land in our country under
and this strategy, in fact, we have begun in a serious way.
Our intention, which has been publicly announced on
occasions, is to encourage the private owners to being their land that
unutilized or under–utilized back into production.
We are willing, of course, to provide as much
incentives as possible. This we have been doing through the extension
through the provision of greater marketing facilities and possibilities.
We are working more and more on developing a common
services which include tractors and what not, and we are also hoping
and more farmers from the private sector will take advantage of the
possibilities and training facilities which have been established or
re–established since the Revolution.
We also believe that utilizing this idle land is one
way also of
solving, or at least reducing the problem of unemployment, therefore,
We established some months ago, a Land Reform
was charged with the task of identifying how much idle land we had in
country and how many unemployed people in the country are willing to
together in cooperatives to work that idle land.
We were, in effect, seeking to bring about a marriage
hands and idle lands so as to end unemployment, as as to increase
so as to earn more foreign exchange for our country.
And I can tell you that the Land Reform Commission, at
point, has identified well over 4,000 acres of land, though we know the
is that there must bee nearer 10,000 acres of idle land.
Consistent with this policy and in order to fully
we have, at the same time, established a National Cooperative
Agency called NACDA, and this organisation NACDA is really a package of
It does about six different things. On the one hand,
unemployed people identify lands that they are willing to work, a study
first of all to test the question of feasibility and capability of the
particular land to do what the people hope to do.
We then, as government, begin negotiations with the
owners to see if it is possible to arrange either free–hold or
purchase of the particular land. The land is in turn then given to the
particular cooperative in lease–hold form.
Thirdly, NACDA at the same time, begins a programme of
of the young cooperators and this is to teach them the principles and
of cooperative management and to instill in them in a deep and concrete
the importance of agriculture to our country.
Fourthly, the question of funding then arises. NACDA
available loans for seeds, for fertiliser, for tools.
Then technical assistance comes into the picture the
of the consistent use of the extension officers and also the
officers attached to NACDA, who they work with the particular
ensure that production continues.
Finally, NACDA is involved also in assisting these
to get the best prices for their products. In other words, assistance
area of marketing.
Our overall view of a way forward for agriculture in
is, first of all, to maintain the present acreage we have in the
crop, but move rapidly at the same time to increase the amount of
per workers. That is the first part of the strategy.
The second part is to move more and more into the area
crops/cash crops. That, for obvious reasons [is] for effecting import
substitution, for ensuring that the base of the economy widens so that
dependent nature of the economy that now exists is gradually eliminated
disengage from the clutches of foreign control.
The third area is precisely the subject of today’s
area of fruit crop production, which we see as being an essential
the future of agriculture in our country, and hence the particular
for us of day’s conference.
The fourth area is the question of
question which the Director General himself has spent so much time in
in a very brief but important address a while ago.
We also believe that agro–industrialisation is a large
the key to any strategy that is aimed at promoting, at developing and
strengthening the agricultural sector in our countries in this region.
We, of course, have many problems which still need
There is the burning problem of pest and disease control, a problem
of the officials in the Ministry would characterise as the biggest
There is, secondly, the problem of praedial larceny, a
which many farmers in our country would characterise as being the
There is the question of marketing which some of us in
believe to be just about the most important problem because if
about people and the development of these people, and the improvement
quality of life, then one of the key questions, if not the key
be the question of price.
If the price is such that the farmer, the agricultural
is not able to enjoy a decent standard of life, then agriculture must
So a large part of whatever strategy we employ for
agriculture, must have a long and hard sustained look at the finding of
markets, of obtaining prices so that the quality of life of the farmer,
turn of the agricultural workers, would dramatically improve.
A fourth problem, of course, related to the provision
of some of
the key inputs that are necessary for agriculture, in sufficient
quantities of fertiliser,
insufficient quantities of seeds and plant materials.
There are also problems with which we will help. In
cocoa propagators in our country were in such a sad state of disrepair,
our work for the first year had to be centred around just bringing them
to some level, from which a take off would be possible.
Fortunately, this has been reasonably achieved and we
able to embark more seriously on phase two, that is the provision of
larger quantities of seeds and plants for the farmers.
A fifth problem, the question of inadequate and very
insufficiently trained expertise, whether in the area of extension
whether in the area of training facilities that we have or research
that are available, or whether in the area of appropriate technology
possible in our particular condition.
In all of these areas too, we find that our country has
suffering in common, of course, with most countries represented in this
The sixth factor is intangible, but it is a very key
that we really have to begin to address more and more in a serious way
are to tackle this problem of finding the best ways of planning in an
and effective way for our agricultural development, and that is the
hurricanes and bad weather.
That is something in our limited state of technology
have not been able to do very much about. And, of course, it has been
increasingly a problem.
Last year for three months, for example, we had very
rainfall which played havoc on our crops. In one month alone, the month
November last year, we had 23 inches of rainfall which is as much as
countries get for the entire year.
We found too that hurricane Allen which struck these
few months ago, although only the tail winds got to Grenada, just the
the hurricane was enough to throw down 19% of our crops in cocoa, 35%
nutmegs and 40% in bananas.
You would hardly wish to think what kind of damage it
done to our sisters and brothers in St. Vincent, St. Lucia and most of
Dominica where they had three such occurrences in the past year alone.
This problem of hurricane and weather control is, of
typical one and perhaps as part of our general concerted effort to get
International Economic Order [NIEO]
going, one of the key answers in this area must be for us to press the
developed countries to put aside money for a fund, and out of that fund
come on a pro–rata basis, assistance to countries that are, infact,
and afflicted by hurricanes and problems of weather generally.
That call we ourselves have made most recently to the
Nations, at a special session to look at the question of a New
Economic Order, and it is certainly a call in which we believe that
But we feel too, that there must be some possibilities
cooperation among ourselves. That these countries that are hit the
it somehow or the other possible, to give immediate assistance to those
countries that are really badly hit.
We feel that this is an extremely important thing.
we feel it is important for us not to allow the opportunity of damage
hurricane or weather, to allow any policies that divide and rule to
We notice recently, for example, that USAID
was making feverish and desperate attempts to keep Grenada out of the
assistance to WINBAN (Windward Islands Banana Association) following
Notwithstanding the fact that the approach was made by
one organisation comprising four countries.
To the credit and integrity of our sisters and brothers
Dominica, St. Vincent and St. Lucia, they have, in fact, spoken up
divisive policy and have insisted that Grenada, in fact, be part of any
assistance to WINBAN.
I am sure that is the problem that is going to arise in
future and it is necessary for us to ensure that we always maintain a
consistent, united policy on these matters.
Our policy is to try to deal with these six problems
arisen over several years. On the one hand, of course, we have spent a
time on the question of training.
We have reopened the Mirabeau Agricultural Training
are desperately trying to find the necessary funding to open at least
agricultural training centres.
We have established NACDA which I have spoken about
are training the workers who are going to be employed at our
plant to be opened in the next few weeks, and we have also opened a
In this school, our fishermen are now able to learn
about the more modern techniques of fishing.
At the same time, of course, we have been seeking
and training assistance in countries abroad. We have received offers
have student studying, for example, in countries like Kenya, Cuba,
Hungary, in institutions like the University of the West Indies and the
Caribbean Institute for Agriculture and Forestry.
So we do see training as being a key component in the
for the development of agriculture in our country.
There have also been substantial improvements in the
plant propagation in general, and most specifically, in the area of
propagation and rehabilitation.
We have now been able to increase our annual output
150,000 upwards to 400,000 trees a year.
And our plan is with the assistance of CIDA [Canadian
International Development Agency] and the Canadian Government to
1,000 acres per annum over the next seven years.
In the area, too, of pest and disease control, we have
working for the eradication of these problems. The FAO
has given us the sum of US$105,000 to help to fight the Moko disease in
The nutmeg wilt disease—we have also received some
that area. In the area of cocoa, particularly to deal with the thrips
beetles, we have also been attempting to obtain assistance so that our
programme in this area can be rapidly stepped up.
I can tell the Director General as of now, that one
are certainly going to be making to IICA [Inter-American Institute for
Cooperation on Agriculture] is for technical assistance in the area of
with control of pest and disease.
We have also been making a drive to produce, once
again, sugar in
our country because the monthly increases in the price of that
continued to be a source of great headaches to our people, all of whom
We intend, therefore, over the next few months, to
acreage presently under production, and quite a sum of money has now
aside for the Sugar Rehabilitation Programme in our country.
In the area of reforestation, likewise, the plan is to
replant over 2,400 acres of our forest land over the next 15 years.
We expect that once that process is completed, we ought
able to get at least 1,000 boardfeet per annum and that will represent
about 1/3 of our estimated needs at that time.
International agencies, of course, have been very
is precisely because we recognise the importance of technical
other forms of assistance from these agencies that we have joined IICA,
joined IFAD [International Fund for Agricultural Development],
we have joined OLADE [Latin American Energy Association],
over the past 18 months.
We continue, of course, to work with CARDI [Caribbean
Agricultural Research and Development Institute],
CARDATS [Caribbean Agricultural Rural Development, Advisory and
Service], with the Caribbean Food Corporation, the Caribbean
Society, the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Council, the Caribbean
University of the West Indies, CARICOM itself, the OAS, FAO, the United
and several other regional and international organisations and
agencies, and we
have found, in practice, that this work has been extremely important
brought many benefits for the country.
Apart from this workshop being opened today, for
tomorrow another workshop and seminar will be opened in Mirabeau; this
OLADE, and this one will be concentrating on the whole question of
the possibilities in that area for developing a source of alternative
And that, also, will be an extremely important workshop.
From IICA itself, we have been able to get quite some
in the very short time we have joined that organisation.
Only last month, we received a study done by IICA which
our markets and marketing systems of fruits and vegetables in Grenada
study is of the most fundamental importance to us, and I am sure that
participants at this workshop will find it very useful to thumb through
study to see what might be there of any value for your own countries.
So, sisters and brothers, this workshop is of the
importance. The whole question of tree production is central to the
of our own strategy and I have no doubt the strategy of several other
in this room.
As possibilities for food, agro–industrialisation,
more jobs, alternative energy possibilities, the possibilities of
feeds out of waste parts of the fruits—we see the question of fruit
production as having a lot of value to all of these areas.
In our own country, the production in this area is
tends to be scattered and dispersed over several different estates.
We have found, in fact, that most people who are into
production have been doing this more in the form of backyard gardening
than anything else.
It is, therefore, more by a combination of chance and
soil and favourable growing conditions that any fruits are grown at all
We are sure that out of this workshop more of our
find new incentives, new material reasons why we should see this area
production as being key and as having possibilities for material
I hope, therefore, that over the next four days that
you spend in
our country, not only on our field trip, but in your moments of
may perhaps enjoy our beaches and the friendliness, the warmth and the
hospitality of our people, that you are able to enjoy yourselves.
I hope as a result of that you would wish to return on
future occasion for a holiday. We certainly would like to thank IICA
other sponsors and contributors for allowing us the privilege and the
hosting this conference in our country.
We also want, once again, to thank you, the
coming from your own countries, for being here in our country. We are
very pleased to see you and hope to see you again very soon.
I, therefore, declare formally open this Caribbean
Traditional and Potential Fruit Tree Crops Development.
Thank you very much.