Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Christopher Tufton, has said that critical issues relating to trade policies, to which Jamaica is a party, need to be addressed.
He added that this would require the involvement of a range of stakeholders, including the Ministries of Agriculture, Industry, Investment and Commerce, Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, as well as the other critical stakeholders “that can take a product and build it into a brand and get it into a market place”.
The Minister was speaking at the Rural Agricultural Development Authority’s (RADA) 20th Anniversary Symposium at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona campus in Kingston on Wednesday (September 22). It was held under the theme: ‘Trade Policy and Agricultural Development.’
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton (left) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Al Powell (centre) listen to Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Ambassador Evadne Coye making a point during RADAs 20th Anniversary Symposium at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Kingston on Wednesday (September 22).
He noted that this collaborative effort would assist the agricultural sector in realizing its full potential.
Dr. Tufton lamented that certain trade policies have not served the agriculture sector well, and has been playing a major role in the marginalisation of agriculture.
“The trade policy that we have practised in the last two decades, where waivers have been more the rule than the exception, and because of our attempt to achieve cheap prices and because of the strength of the traders over primary producers.we have seen, as a consequence of that, trade policy playing a very significant role in the marginalisation of agriculture,” he said.
Dr. Tufton also noted that in the area of the trade policy’s link to the agricultural sector, it could be concluded that, over the last two decades, the agricultural sector has to a large extent suffered its most significant setback, largely because of the adjustment in the trade environment in which it has had to compete.
He said that there was also a lack of commensurate attention towards redefining the sector and building capacity, in order to preserve its competitiveness.
He commended RADA on its contribution to the society over the years, adding that it has evolved into a critical institution, as it relates to the development of the agricultural sector and in particular in assisting farmers requiring that level of technical support, based on their profile in advancing best practices in the industry.