KINGSTON — A sum of $148 million has been allocated in the 2011/12 Estimates of Expenditure, currently before the House of Representatives, to continue work on the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Agricultural Competitiveness Programme this year.
The objectives of the project are: to increase competitiveness in the agricultural sector; to facilitate small and medium farmers' access to markets; ensure the production of safe and good quality agricultural products and food; and to stimulate public/private investment in agribusiness value chain development.
As at March 2011, some of the achievements included: establishment of the Project Steering Committee (PSC); recruitment of the Project Management Unit staff in progress: signing the financing agreement; and reviewing the project document.
Some of the anticipated targets for this fiscal year include: strengthening the Agro Investment Corporation; setting up competitive enterprises with market access plans; foster innovative marketing approaches; and the promotion and facilitation of competitive sustainable enterprises.
Other targets include: initiating the implementation of a public awareness campaign; developing a database and strengthening record systems; development of operating manual for use by producers and exporters; initiating identification of demand for products locally and overseas; and initiating the development of a master plan to be the foundation for the successful marketing of fresh and value added products and livestock products.
The project, which started in April 2010 is expected to be completed in November 2015, and is being funded by the Inter American Development Bank.
By CHRIS PATTERSON, JIS Reporter