Work on the new Chinese Agricultural Station in One Mile, Portsmouth is scheduled to begin soon.
The Hillsborough Horticultural Centre, part of the Chinese Agricultural Mission which was originally located in Layou was extensively damaged during flooding associated with the breach of the Mattieu Dam in 2011.
The Government of Dominica had since allocated lands in Portsmouth to facilitate the continuation of work of the Chinese Agricultural Mission.
The Hon. Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit along with the Hon. Parliamentary Representative for the Portsmouth Constituency, Ian Douglas, Hon. Parliamentary Representative for the Cottage Constituency, Reginald Austrie and the Hon. Minister for Agriculture Matthew Walter visited the new site on Thursday April 5, 2012.
Prime Minister Hon Roosevelt Skerrit says he is pleased with the progress made thus far and also noted that the new station will assist the Government in its efforts to improve the quality and quantity of agricultural produce exported to regional and international destinations.
Prime Minister Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit speaking with the Chinese Delegation said, “Now you have no limitations here in terms of space and an opportunity to implement the whole strategy. I am very excited about this opportunity particularly in regards to the training opportunities for young people. The north of the country is very well known for its agriculture and particularly its agricultural diversification. There are a number of farmers who are involved in tree crop, root crop and vegetable and livestock production. Government places high emphasis on agriculture because we have to ensure that we can feed our people and export to neighbouring countries and further afield. We have to try to reduce the cost of production so that we can try to reduce on the price of vegetable produce in the country and be able to compete with our neighboring countries in the open market. The presence of the technical mission here will no doubt assist us in achieving those objectives. This will serve in large measure as the nucleus for greater things.”
The Minister for Agriculture, Hon. Matthew Walter says he is excited about the Chinese Agricultural Mission’s plans to transfer technology to the island’s farmers when the project is complete.
“We lack the experts and the technology here to advance the agricultural agenda. This is going to contribute meaningfully and significantly to the transformation and modernization of agriculture in this country.”
Parliamentary Representative for the Portsmouth Constituency says this project will lend itself tremendously to the entire economic landscape of the Portsmouth Area.
“We in Portsmouth and in the North have always spoken about the vast potential for the economic advancement of the town of Portsmouth and the north of Dominica and we are happy that the Hon. Prime Minister has strengthened relations with the People’s Republic of China to make that a reality. It is projects like these that make us believe so much in the One China Policy, because China is helping us with our own economic advancement and we want to model the great successes of the Chinese people here in Dominica and more particularly agriculture. I am happy to know that this project includes a tourism component.”
Parliamentary Representative for the Cottage Constituency, Hon. Reginald Austrie made special mention of the training component of the programme.
“One of the exciting things about this project is the training component. There is an impression out there in the country that people are moving away from agriculture but I believe that with this new and improved technology and these modern facilities, we can now begin to attract the young people in particular.” In his interview, Hon. Austrie added, “There is great potential in Dominica in agriculture, as you know we feed the rest of the Caribbean… we just need to improve the variety of [produce] that we can both consume locally and export… we see this project as a flagship project and we want to give it all our support.”