The Ministry of Agriculture will be taking a targeted approach in 2022 to reduce the country’s food import bill which stands at 200 million ec dollars.
During a virtual budget consultation for farmers, Minister Saboto Caesar said he is mindful that addressing the food import bill cannot be done in isolation of the national food consumption bill.
Even with an increase in food production Minister Caesar said the country’s food import bill is still too high with not enough concentration on the production of significant quantities of food which are currently imported.
Caesar said import substitution has to be addressed noting that with an expected growth in the tourism sector there will be a demand for more vegetables, fruits, beef etc.
He said the 2022 budget is going to see a focus not only on recovering the losses and damage due to the volcanic eruption and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic but charting a unique pathway working with local producers in certain niche areas.
Minister Caesar also encouraged young people to approach the production of new commodities with an open mind.
With the aim to continue supporting the development of a modern medicinal wellness industry locally, Minister Caesar said this will include the further development of the medical cannabis industry which is making preparations for its first international export.