JIS News

Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton on February 12, presented a cheque for $5 million to the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, to be used to fund the organisation’s Goat Revolving Scheme.
According to Dr. Tufton, who handed over the cheque at the 4-H Clubs headquarters on Old Hope Road, the money was made available by the Agricultural Credit Board. He added that this was another step in the right direction and would encourage young people to get involved in agriculture.
The Minister further pointed out that this was also in keeping with the theme of the Ministry and by extension the government, to stimulate and promote initiatives, such as the Goat Revolving Programme.
He stressed that any society which ignored the development of its agricultural sector would be exposing itself to vulnerabilities in relation to the security of the people.
“Agriculture is an important area of activity, as it sustains and maintains a critical mass within the Jamaican society,” he explained, adding that it was the lifeline of rural Jamaica and was “very important to the security of our people.”
“Every industrialized country that boasts the highest level of GDP are countries that have extended resources, energies and hard work in establishing and preserving an agricultural base and so I do not buy the argument that some people promote, that agriculture is a hopeless activity. I don’t support the idea that we should seek our fortunes elsewhere. It is important that we expand and preserve agriculture and it has to start with our young people,” he maintained.
He said that most of the sum presented to the club should be committed to the Revolving Scheme, but in the context of promoting goat rearing in educational institutions.
Citing the level of importation of goat and sheep meat, Dr. Tufton said there was an existing market for the product locally, but this was not being satisfied.
“Between 2003 and 2007 we imported somewhere in the region of $330 million of goat and sheep meat, and therefore this says to us that there is a market that we are currently not satisfying, and this is an opportunity that we must take advantage of,” he said. The Goat Revolving Scheme was initiated in 2000, with the first phase funded by the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI) and the American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture.
The project was initially conceptualized to provide goat meat for local consumption and the tourism sector as well as to provide quality breeding stock for local farmers.

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