The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries will be seeking to establish permanent wholesale farmers' markets at strategic locations across the country.
This was disclosed by Portfolio Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, at the launch of the Kingston and St. Andrew Association of Branch Societies/Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) annual Agricultural and Industrial Show, ‘Agrofest’, at the JAS, Church Street offices, on May 8. Agrofest will be held at Jamaica College on May 26, 2012.
Mr. Clarke pointed out that the wholesale farmers’ markets will provide an avenue for farmers to take their produce and sell to the community.
“We don’t want to have them competing with the higglers in their domain. These markets will be set up in strategic areas,” the Minister said.
Under the previous administration, farmers’ markets were established in an effort to reduce the glut of some produce in the market.
Mr. Clarke said the Government is also aiming to reposition the agricultural sector, while urging Jamaicans to support local farmers.
“Our farmers must become more productive. We must ensure that two blades of grass grow where one is growing now, and this is the only way we can get competitive. If we do that, I am sure that our people will support us,” the Minister said.
In the meantime, Mr. Clarke noted that the Ministry will be giving $1million towards the hosting of Agrofest. He is also encouraging Jamaicans to come out and support the day’s activities.
For his part, First Vice President of the JAS, Senator Norman Grant, said that over the years, the show has attracted more than 2,000 patrons and over 40 exhibitors, including JAS branches, horticultural displays and displays from financial institutions.
“This year we are trying to get 50 exhibitors and 20 branches. If we are able to achieve that, the show will be the biggest at Jamaica College since we re-introduced it 16 years ago,” Senator Grant said.
He noted that the JAS will be acknowledging the work of 50 individuals from the parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew, who have made contributions to the development of agriculture.
At this year’s show, there will be the judging of JAS Branch Displays, with the champion display receiving the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Trophy, and the best Commercial Booth Display receiving the Cherry Savage Trophy.
The 2nd and 3rd place Branch Displays will be presented with the JAS President's trophy and the Joyce Shaw trophy, respectively.
The Farm Queen for the parish will also be crowned and presented with the Thelma King Cup. The Champion Coffee Farmer will be presented with the Keble Munn Cup, sponsored by the Mavis Bank Coffee Factory. Minister Clarke and other officials will tour the grounds at 1:00 p.m.
Other features of the show include: police mounted troop exhibition, Guardsman canine display and a small ruminant display. Entertainment will be provided for the entire family throughout the day. There will also be a Farmers' Market, where fresh agricultural produce will be sold to patrons.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter