Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Suriname - VHP: “Spend mining industry profits on agricultural development”

Suriname's biggest opposition party, the Progressive Reform Party (VHP), would like to see profits from the mining industry used to set up a development fund for agriculture to develop and modernise the sector.

According to chairman of the Agricultural Council of the VHP, Dayanand Dwarka, the agricultural sector in Suriname has stagnated during the past decades and urgently needs to be modernised. Dwarka says that successive governments have done nothing to implement technological developments in agricuture. “The governments rather focus on the big bucks that come from the mining industry in Suriname, but they do not factor in that one day oil and bauxite will be exhausted.”

According to Dwarka, Suriname is going downhill, despite large worldwide technological developments in agriculture. “It is a tough job and prices are high. Farmers advise their children not to aspire to a career in agriculture. Young people see no achievements in their parents' agricultural enterprises and they rather invest in knowledge, skills and capital in other sectors.”

Dwarka predicts that in the long term this situation will become critical. “International organisations predict serious food shortages. Suriname has vast areas where large-scale agriculture can be practised. But if we continue at this level, by then all the knowledge, experience and capital will be lost.” He states that it is essential for Suriname to invest in these sectors now, “…so that we can extend our knowledge, experience and capital”.

Analysis: Mr Dwarka's observations are correct, but at the same time, remarkable, as during the past decades the VHP has more than once staffed the Ministry of Agriculture. This ministry was also held by top leaders of the party during the last few cabinets in which the VHP co-governed. Agriculture in Suriname is mainly in the hands of the VHP supporters: the Hindustani community. President Dési Bouterse's government has on a number of occasions expressed the intention to make Suriname the 'food supplier' of the Caribbean region. No real steps in that direction, however, have so far been taken. It appears that with regard to this topical item, the VHP wants to outstrip the current government. At the same time their intention is to guarantee the Hindustani electorate's loyalty to their party, because Bouterse's government is also looking for these votes.

For more news and expert analysis about Suriname, please see Suriname Politics & Security.

© 2012 Menas Associates

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