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Reap as you sow: why more money is needed for farming

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New investment is needed for farming on St Helena after decades of under-funding, says the Growing Forward paper on island farming.

It says people have been discouraged from getting involved in agriculture because of a poor business environment – made worse by limited financial help.

Now the industry needs a “rake-over” to improve its image and attract more people to grow food commercially.

It says the government, Enterprise St Helena, the island’s bank all need to invest in farming – and so does the private sector.

“Insufficient investment in agriculture is one of the main causes of limited agricultural development and decreasing contributions to our food supply,” it says.

“Declining food production is linked, among other factors, to limited access to credit and financing, and a business environment which discourages private sector involvement in agriculture.

The key challenge to financing of and investment in agriculture will be to improve the image and business environment of the sector.”

Strategies for change include increasing funding “to establish a small number of motivated and professional producers providing constant and reliable supplies and delivering quality that meets improved trade standards.”

That could include seeking skilled people overseas.

Incentives for producers are also proposed, along with a review of import charges – which would help island-grown produce compete with imported food.

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