$180 Million to Improve Competitiveness in Agriculture

Story Highlights

  • The Agricultural Competitiveness Programme has received an allocation of $180 million to improve the sector’s performance on the national and international markets.
  • The project aims to increase capacity of small and medium farmers to access national and international markets, improve the performance of the country’s food quality and safety management systems as well as foster development of agricultural and agro processing value chains.

The Agricultural Competitiveness Programme has received an allocation of $180 million to improve the sector’s performance on the national and international markets.

Details are outlined in the 2017/18 Estimates of Expenditure, now before the House of Representatives.

The project aims to increase capacity of small and medium farmers to access national and international markets, improve the performance of the country’s food quality and safety management systems as well as foster development of agricultural and agro processing value chains.

Targets for the 2017/18 fiscal year include updating and strengthening the mechanisms of public- and private-sector interactions in addressing food safety.

This involves implementing infrastructure works at Ebony Park, Spring Plains, Yallahs and Plantain Garden River Agro Parks to facilitate the attainment of global Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification.

Other targets under the programme include plant health, which will see the resumption of the Mediterranean and West Indian Fruit Fly surveillance programme; enhancement of the technical capabilities of officers from the

Research and Development Division to carry out rapid and precise diagnosis, surveillance, quarantine and response to plant pest emergencies as well as procuring equipment and supplies for plant health laboratories at the Bodles research facilities in St. Catherine.

Another feature is animal health, which involves procurement of animal health equipment and the engagement of a public relations consultant for the National Animal Identification and Traceability Programme.

Meanwhile, the project will also incorporate agro parks support activities. T

hese are completing the packing facility at New Forest/Duff House, development of access roads and drains to support the development of the Hounslow Agro Park.

engaging a consultant to carry out environmental assessment of the agro parks, analysis of irrigation water being supplied to New Forest/Duff House, Spring Plains and Yallahs agro parks and to the Hill Run fish-farming community, and procuring the requisite permits and licences to operate the agro parks.

There have been several achievements under the project. Component one saw the implementation of a system to support market development (marketing system).

This involved the procurement of 30 laptops for Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) field staff, and engaging the services of a computer programmer to provide support for the Jamaica Agricultural Management Information System.

Additionally, 10 marketing negotiation and skills workshops for producer organisations were held and 15 post-harvest kits for RADA extension officers procured.

Under component two, Quality Management Systems were implemented, and the Food-Safety Policy approved by Cabinet and an implementation plan developed by the National Agricultural Health & Food Safety Committee.

A performance evaluation report on food safety was prepared and 10 stakeholders’ workshops held on food-safety policy implementation and strategic planning, as well as 12 workshops held to review the proposed animal health policy; and the National Plant Health and Animal Health policies were approved by Cabinet.

The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries-implemented project commenced in November 2010 and is slated to end in May 2017. Funding is provided by the Inter-American Development Bank.

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