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Letter: ‘Agriculture in these islands is broken’

Saturday 26 August 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion

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Letter: ‘Agriculture in these islands is broken’

Kia Orana Editor, I am a visitor to your beautiful islands and have been for many years observing the growth over time.

One of the main areas of growth is obviously in the area of tourism which has mushroomed since the airport opening but I also have been occasionally reminded of areas of decline.

As Danny Mataroa calls for revival of the breadfruit industry. Michael Tavioni BEM reminds us " the backbone of the Cook Islands economy was agriculture". He goes on to say "When tourism was established, agriculture - the backbone of Cook Islands broke.

Both these men are calling for the government to assist, and in my view they should be listened to. Agriculture in these islands is broken but if assisted in a proper manner there are opportunities for development.

When I first came here agriculture was, as Mike said, the backbone of the country. The Cook Islands exported produce to New Zealand. Every ship departing these shores had home grown Cook Islands produce bound for the NZ markets. Locally, produce was also in abundance and easily purchased.

Nowadays, the vessels leave with mainly empty containers. The small brightly coloured roadside stalls emblazoned with their name plates are sadly empty of sellers and their wares. The market, with the exception of Saturday, has only one or two Mama's selling their produce during the weekdays.

There are opportunities in agriculture in the Cook Islands but it needs the Government and its ministries to assist in setting it up and giving it the financial support it requires. You have good growing soil, use it to your advantage, don't let the creepers continue to kill the trees and take up valuable farmland.

Use your young people to help and set up a sustainable farming industry that will keep them employed and in the country.

I'd also like to congratulate Danny Cook on the "electric bus" idea. A brilliant idea but obviously not taken up by the Government. Why not?? 

I hope they listen to Danny Mataroa and Michael Tavioni BEM and not dismiss their initiatives to assist farming.

Rod Grout