Agriculture Minister Moses Jn Baptiste has said that the logistics are still being worked out before a final decision is made to increase the local purchase requirement of poultry.
The minister said this plan is not aimed at hurting anyone’s business, but ensuring that everyone has an equal share in the industry and there is no special treatment for any one group.
“You cannot develop an economy where one side seems to be the “lion’s share holder” so to speak and the rest of the farmers and fishers and are not part of the big part of the economy,” he said.
Jn Baptiste said when the banana industry was booming, the people who benefited most were the individuals with the shops in Castries, who sold clothes and vehicle.
“These are the people who got the “lion’s share” of the impact of the banana industry in St Lucia,” he said.
The agriculture minister is of the opinion that if the economy is going to be developed, the government has to ensure that the foundation structures are re-established.
“We believe that if farmers are given an opportunity to earn a living, the very importers will gain. The farmers will have more disposable income and they will go into the stores, to purchase the imports that those other private sector businesses are bringing in,” he explained.
Jn Baptiste said he does not see any conflict in the decision to increase the quota. “We are working with the importers and we are working with everybody, to ensure that the way this happens is that something we all agree on. We don’t want it to be something that is forced down somebody’s throat.”
Government had delayed the implementation of a planned 40 percent local purchase requirement for the importation of poultry meat, to hold consultations with poultry importers.
The new quota system was scheduled to take effect on May 27, 2015.
Importers are not pleased with the decision and have said the decision taken by the ministry will see a huge increase in poultry products on the local market.
They have been subsidizing the cost of poultry, with the purchase of local chicken, but this could become impossible with this new decision.
Currently, imported chicken are much cheaper than local chicken.
The St Lucia Poultry Association (SLPA) has said it is optimistic about increase in local poultry quotas.