Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, has emphasised that the agricultural sector should not be viewed as a rescue plan in times of crisis, but should be seen as a tool for sustainable development.
“A rescue plan suggests a short term measure to solve a particular problem at a particular point in time. A sustainable programme for development involving agriculture involves a policy framework that moves way beyond the short and medium term and looks toward the long term, with a level of deliberateness, in order to enhance the capacity that is required to move us in a direction that is sustainable over the long term,” Dr. Tufton said.
The Minister was speaking at the launch of the Denbigh Agricultural and Industrial Show 2009, held on May 26 on the lawns of Hi-Pro Ace Farm Super Centre, White Marl, St. Catherine.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton (second right), listens as Vice President, Marketing Feed and Agricultural Supplies, Jamaica Broilers Group, Conley Salmon (right), describes the soil content of a plant. Looking on are: President and Chief Executive Officer, Jamaica Broilers Group, Christopher Levy (left) and First Vice President, Jamaica Agricultural Society, Glendon Harris. Occasion was the launch of the Denbigh Agricultural and Industrial Show 2009 on May 26, on the lawns of Hi Pro Ace Super Centre, White Marl, St. Catherine.
Dr. Tufton further noted that over the past few years, the agricultural sector has been marginalised by a lack of investments in infrastructure and in capacity building. He argued that investments in the agricultural sector from the public and private sectors have not materialised in the way that it has in other critical sectors, such as tourism and banking.
“The lobby for investments in agriculture has been, to a large extent, a lot weaker than the lobby and the special interest focus on investments in other areas and this is why we are vulnerable,” the Minister said.
Dr. Tufton also noted that any attempt to make agriculture a tool for development must bear in mind the marketplace in which the agricultural sector has to survive and to make progress.
“That marketplace must consider, as a matter of urgency, two critical issues. Firstly, it must consider the consumers and those who demand the primary products or value added products from primary production, and we have to invest in the capacity to understand markets,” the Minister said.
“Secondly, that marketplace must be considered in the context of the terms of engagement that alternatives within that very market, local or international, are allowed to function and I think that is an important omission or misunderstanding that has plagued and help to marginalise our sector over the many years,” he added.
Dr. Tufton also mentioned that the framework does not exist to motivate investment into the agricultural sector, because agriculture represents the greatest risk to the investor and more often than not, brings the least returns.
“There is a lopsidedness that exists within the investment environment, caused by a number of factors, including the policy framework that gives much greater preference to other forms of investment than agricultural investment. And that is something that has to change if agriculture is to become a tool for development,” the Minister said.
Dr. Tufton said he is looking forward to Denbigh 2009, and that the Ministry will continue to play its part to “improve the foods that we produce and the food we consume.”
In his remarks, President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Senator Norman Grant pointed out that the Denbigh Show will be held from Friday, July 31 to Sunday, August 2, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily.
The theme for the show remains the same as 2008, ‘Grow What We Eat, Eat What We Grow’.
“We have decided to continue with the theme, as it is always very relevant, particularly at this time when we face the challenges presented by the global economic crisis. There is a strain and demand on a global scale for agricultural produce and countries like ours must rise to the challenge and increase our production and consumption of local produce,” Senator Grant said.
Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Dr. Patrick Allen will be the guest speaker on the opening day, Friday, July 31. On Saturday, August 1, the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries will be the guest speaker, and on Sunday, August 2, Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding will deliver the keynote address. Leader of the Opposition, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller will also be in attendance.
Some of the features at this year’s Denbigh show include, Youth in Agriculture; Educational and Investment Seminars; Farmers Talent Parade; National Farm Queen Coronation Show; Parish Pavilion displays; nightly entertainment; farmers market; tourism village; Jamaica walk; kiddies village; Denbigh 2009 magazine; Vale Royal booth; King’s House booth; celebrity cook-off, and horse jumping. The entry fee remains the same as in 2008 with adults paying $600 and children $300, daily.