Grisha pleased with Parliamentary support for CAFAH. “We need to grow what we eat, and eat what we grow”
A proposal by MP’s Grisha Heyliger-Marten and Sarah Wescot Williams to establish a Permanent Committee for Agriculture, Fisheries, and Animal Husbandry (CAFAH) received full support from their colleagues during a Central Committee meeting of Parliament on Friday afternoon.
During the meeting, both MP’s provided Parliament with a joint presentation on the reasons for their proposal for the establishment of the CAFAH. MP Heyliger-Marten pointed to the local, regional, and global developments that underscore the need for St. Martin as a nation to put a strong emphasis on local food production and food safety.
Citing the advantages of (increased) local food production for the health of the population and food prices, she alluded to CARICOM’s “25 by 2025” initiative being implemented by Governments throughout the region. The objective of this initiative is to reduce the region’s food import costs with 25% by 2025.
On a global level, Heyliger-Marten pointed to the two major conflicts currently ongoing in Ukraine an Israel/Palestine. “These conflicts and their fall-out can disrupt global supply chains and have very negative consequences for island nations like St. Martin, who depend largely on imports”, she said in a press release issued on Sunday afternoon.
“And on a local level, we have a governing program that mentions prioritizing our local agriculture sector. But the policy established by the Ministry of TEATT in December of 2022 does not address St. Martin’s particular situation and need”, according to Heyliger-Marten.
She further stated that the document appears to be put together by using parts of international publications about agriculture in general. “In order that ensure that we adequately address the regional and global developments with regards to food safety and production, Parliamentary involvement and oversight is needed. That is why MP Wescot-Williams and I came with the proposal for the CAFAH, Heyliger-Marten said.
In her section of the presentation, MP Wescot-Williams emphasized the importance of having a strong agricultural sector and outlined the role and function of the CAFAH. She specifically explained the scope of work, rules of order, and general work plan of the CAFAH, and also emphasized the important aspect of civic participation and public education regarding agriculture.
Both MP’s thanked their colleagues for supporting their proposal. Before closing the meeting, President of Parliament Sidharth “Cookie” Bijlani thanked the MP’s for their contributions and stated that a public meeting would be convened to formalize the establishment of the CAFAH.