After salaries and wages, ‘grossly inadequate’ budget leaves no room for development of agriculture, MP Watts laments

Member of Parliament for St. George Algernon “Serpent” Watts has referred to the $20-million budget allocated to the Ministry of Agriculture as “grossly inadequate.”

According to Watts, of the earmarked amount, salary and wages account for 80 percent, leaving very little funds for the development of the sector.

He noted that the 2023 Budget highlighted a plethora of challenges plaguing agriculture, including the absence of policies; inadequate research; lack of transportation to navigate agricultural districts; lack of drinking water in various stations; and lack of funding.

With all these hurdles to overcome, he said, one would have expected to see an increase in funding for the sector. However, that has not been the case.

As well as recognizing the work of the United Progressive Party’s Hilson “Brother B” Baptiste, Watts harked back to the strides made under the Progressive Labour Movement (PLM) Administration, where Deputy Premier Robert Hall served as minister of agriculture.

A farmer himself, Watts said the COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of the importance of food security, and he lamented the Government’s lack of support for farmers.