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Vromi Minister Maurice Lake says he will work with his colleague Minister for Tourism & Economic Affairs to start a Department of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry & Fisheries Affairs that would assist local stakeholders with the further development of these sectors.
“As minister of public lands, I will work with my colleague who is over this particular area and coordinate efforts within this one-year term that we have. I do believe much headway can be made if we have all parties onboard,” Lake said. “A country that is not able to partially feed itself leaves much to be desired. This area of our economy needs to be further explored and working with stakeholders it can be done. It’s all about going back to basics. We need to create employment for our young people,”
“I had the opportunity to meet several other local agriculturist, stakeholders and promoters of a viable sector, during the past week such as Bushman, Leo Richardson, the Plants Family, and the Soualiga Social Movement,” he added.
“I was very impressed with what the agriculturists have been able to accomplish based on hard work and dedication in what they do concerning the ponds and gardens they have developed. I am confident there are also a few others that I haven’t spoken too as yet such as Rodrick Fleming.
Some of these people have put their life savings into their gardens. These people are proud of what they do as I had the opportunity to see for myself the gardens they have toiled. As a community we have not given agriculture its rightful place, but we need to promote our own home-grown organic food produced by our local farmers,” Lake said.
The minister would like to look at zoning certain areas for livestock and agriculture, and establishing a St. Maarten organic market in a centrally located area where produce can be sold. An area under consideration is along the Ring Road.
Lake also believes that this is an entire new growth area for the country. “Government can set certain standards and requirements for the sale of fresh produce. Consumers are looking for quality and also service,” he said.
“As a country we can look into agri-tourism, aqua-ponics, eco-lodge, agri-cultural trails/hikes that showcase our countries natural beauty. We are a country of beautiful hills with views worth exploring, and the benefactors are besides the local community also our tourists.”
“I would encourage our local agriculturalist, animal husbandries and fishermen to come together to establish a foundation that would represent their sector, who then in turn can meet with various stakeholders such as food wholesalers, the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association, the marine community, the timeshare sector, and network, getting back to basics and working out the details of how the development of these sectors can be further developed into a win-win for all,” Minister Lake said as he envisions the development of the sectors.
Minister Lake is also of the opinion that agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries, light industry manufacturing, information, communication and technology, international business services, should be part and parcel of the national development plan that is being developed with community and stakeholder input under the guidance of the government.