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Old ways pose risk to island food plan

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Stuck-in-the-mud growers have been cited as the main threat to plans for St Helena to produce more of its own food.

“Inertia” and delay in changing ways of working are identified as a high risk to the island’s draft Growing Forward strategy – with a high potential impact.

The paper says strong leadership is needed to prevent plans failing through “inability to make the necessary changes in the timeframe”.

It says the challenges are:

  • Changing attitudes – “the hardest thing”
  • Everyone being involved, but with no drive or accountability
  • Constant haggling over detail

“A partnership approach built on trust, openness and a willingness to take difficult decisions is essential for success,” says the paper.

The strategy document also says there are medium to high risks that production and commercial activities will not expand quickly enough, and that frequent climate changes will affect supply and quality.

The paper says producers need to be offered a range of finance options. An annual agriculture forum is also proposed.

It says producers need to plan for variations in the climate.

Five other threats to the strategy have been identified, including loss of political support after an election, declining land quality, lack of people and resources, and resistance to change.

They are rated as medium risks – but most with a high impact on plans for the island to become more self-sufficient.

Strategies to avert those threats including making agriculture a mainstream priority for the government – with the National Agricultural Policy, when it is finalised, being used to push for resources.

LINK: Growing Forward, draft agricultural strategy 2013-15

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