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President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Senator Norman Grant has said that if the local agricultural sector is enabled to realize its full potential IT will directly contribute to the livelihood of all farmers, and will also greatly assist in the enhancement of the lives of the general Jamaican population.
Giving the main address at the official launch of the 22nd Annual St. Mary Agri Expo at the Gray’s Inn Estate in Annotto Bay on Sunday, March 23, Senator Grant noted that the agricultural sector is the fundamental pillar on which sustained economic development is established in many countries.
Pointing out that the sector currently accounts for six per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), he said that contribution can easily be doubled if the sector is provided with more support. He added that the farming community also absorbs 20 per cent of the labour force in addition to providing import substitution for the manufacturing and tourism sectors.
Commenting on the expo, Senator Grant said the show constitutes one of the highlights on the JAS calendar which brings into focus the importance of agriculture and its linkage with tourism in marketing Jamaican products locally and internationally.
He added that the theme ‘Agriculture and Tourism, a Partnership for Progress’ constituted a platform to forge integral alliances among stakeholders within the tourism, manufacturing and agricultural sectors to effectively market the finest agricultural products in St. Mary.
In paying tribute to the organizers of the show for the success they have achieved in staging the event, he said the achievement was remarkable given the fact that St. Mary had suffered a serious set back as a result of the onslaught of Hurricane Dean in 2007.
The JAS President said that despite this setback, the farmers of the parish should be congratulated for the fact that they continue to be significant contributors to the overall agricultural production in the country.