The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, will spend $210 million this financial year to increase competitiveness in the agricultural sector, by facilitating access to international markets for small and medium sized farmers.
The initiative also seeks to ensure the production of safe and good quality agricultural products and food; and stimulate public-private investment in the development of agribusinesses.
Under the project, funds will go towards conducting research in export practises for non-traditional products in the United States, Canada, and European markets; conduct a study to determine the feasibility of establishing an export agency in Miami; as well as a study of domestic market opportunities, capacity building, and market linkages.
This year, support will also be provided to strengthen the Jamaica Agricultural Marketing System (JAMIS), while local and international consultants will be engaged to conduct farmer field schools
The project will also procure equipment and furniture for the Food Safety Agency and laboratories; the food borne illness surveillance and emergency response systems will be reviewed, and a proposal for a modernised food inspection and registration system prepared.
The Inter-American Development Agency (IDB) funded-project, which began in November 2010, has seen a number of achievements up to February 2013. These include: the convening of marketing negotiation and skills workshops for producers and organisations; and the procurement of harvest kits for 13 marketing/extension officers, and 30 laptops for Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) staff.
In the meantime, Cabinet has approved a Food Safety Policy, and an implementation plan is being developed to bring it into effect. A performance evaluation report on food safety is also being prepared. Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and risk analysis training was carried out, while computers were procured for the Quarantine and Veterinary Services Divisions.
Additionally, three value chain managers were recruited and the Agro Investment Corporation network was upgraded, while desktop computers were procured for the Corporation’s accounting department.
Contact: Alphea Saunders