JIS News

Agriculture Minister, Roger Clarke has announced a $10 million package of assistance for small citrus growers. The money is to assist the farmers to buy seedlings and other planting materials.
The Minister made the announcement yesterday (August 9), during his address at a Citrus Nutrition Seminar at the Trade Winds Sports Club in Bog Walk, St. Catherine.
Mr. Clarke explained that citrus farming was not an overnight crop, but one that took years to produce.
He said that despite the challenges facing the industry, such as praedial larceny, the natural elements and competition from overseas exporters, there was a market for Jamaican citrus, so it was essential for the Ministry to assist the small farmers as much as possible.
The Minister commented on the resilience and tenacity of the Jamaican farmer, and spoke of the commitment of the Government to assist the sector. “You only have to give the farmers a start and watch them grow,” he said.
Mr. Clarke expressed concern about the practice by some farmers of liberally applying fertilizer to the land, even when it was not necessary. “In farming, everything has to be right – the inputs have to be right, timely and correct,” he emphasised.
The Minister explained that agriculture was at a point where it had to take on new meaning, and that it had to be driven by science, “because that is the only way we will be able to compete in the international arena”.
Mr. Clarke said he had a special interest in the citrus industry, not only because it formed part of his Ministerial responsibility, but because it was a part of the wholesome development of the agricultural sector.
The Minister also used the occasion to assure Head of the Citrus Protection Agency, Florence Young that a review of the ministry’s financial position would be done to see whether more funding could be provided for the agency to continue the programme to eliminate the Tristeza Virus, which was affecting the industry.
Also addressing the seminar was Jerry Stoller, President of Stoller Enterprise, a Texas-based Plant Nutrition Information Specialist.
The seminar was sponsored by Stoller Enterprise, Trade Winds Limited, the Citrus Growers Association and St. Jago Farm Supplies.