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Opposition calls for review of onion import permits

Published:Thursday | March 30, 2023 | 10:19 AM
Opposition Spokesperson on Agriculture, Lothan Cousins. - File photo.

The Opposition is taking issue with the Government over the issuance of permits to import onions.

It says the move came after the Government had encouraged and mobilised the farming sector to increase onion production.

In a statement today, Spokesperson on Agriculture, Lothan Cousins said the timing was irrational and called for the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Pearnel Charles Jr, to explain why the methodology created to assess existing local production before contemplating import permits was abandoned under his watch. 

The Opposition said it had taken note of a demonstration by onion farmers in Llandewey, St Thomas, and claims of imports displacing markets for their onion crop.

The spokesperson said while he was not surprised at the usual callous treatment of farmers, he was disappointed that the onion production programme was being frustrated by the Government's propensity to issue import permits. 

Cousins said the pain, anxiety and frustration displayed by the farmers, on national television, on Monday night was heartbreaking as farmers cited inadequate timely supplies of productive inputs and lack of crop management support as the primary reasons for some fields being damaged by the Beet Army Worm infestation.

Having observed the plight of the farmers, the agriculture spokesperson is calling for the Government to implement a programme of support for the farmers.

He said despite the issues affecting farmers, additional punishment was being meted out to them by government-approved onion import permits.

The Opposition is also calling for transparency in the award of the import permits.

Cousins said the Opposition is asking for full disclosure in order to promote fairness and remove any potential for connected persons to benefit from the farmers' plight.

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