Cocoa gets attention in Tobago budget

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The Trinidad and Tobago Guardian reports that a concerted effort will be made to link Tobago’s agriculture sector with the school feeding program, to encourage youth involvement in agriculture, and to develop innovative solutions to housing needs on the island:

Seed funding is to be provided to encourage more people to undertake agricultural ventures. As he presented Tobago’s budget request for fiscal 2017-2018, Secretary of Finance and the Economy in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Joel Jack said human capital development is “central to the developmental strategy” of the current administration.

The 2017-2018 expenditure estimates include a development request of $1.71 billion and recurrent estimates of $ 3.2 billion, totalling $4.91 billion. Under recurrent expenditure, the school feeding programme will cost $50 million and the Agricultural Incentive Programme $4 million. The development programme estimates include an Agro-Park at Friendship Estate at a cost of $10 million and the Agricultural Access Roads Programme at $80 million.

Jack said the THA will initiate financing mechanisms to benefit the economy. This will include a cocoa rehabilitation programme through the Division of Food Production, Forestry and Fisheries.

“We are cognizant of the fact that fine flavoured cocoa is in high demand and fetches premium prices on the international market. We are also mindful of the historical importance of cocoa to the Tobago economy. The Division proposes to utilise agricultural lands to develop an effective value chain in cocoa and chocolate production,” he said.

Priority will also be placed on facilitating youth involvement in agriculture, through training and a revision of the Youth Apprenticeship Programme in Agriculture (YAPA), Jack said. [. . .] In addition to agricultural initiatives, the THA will review potential Public Private Partnership proposals to develop innovative solutions to housing needs in Tobago. [. . .]

For full article, see http://www.guardian.co.tt/business/2017-06-24/cocoa-gets-attention-tobago-budget

[Photo above from https://cdkn.org/resource/trinidad-tobago-assessing-impact-climate-change-cocoa-tomato/?loclang=en_gb]

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