Agricultural Development Strategy Being Implemented


The agricultural development strategy of the Ministry of Agriculture, a three-year plan designed to facilitate efficient research-based, market-led production within the sector, has already begun to set the stage for the transformation process.
Minister of Agriculture, Roger Clarke said the strategy, which took effect this year and is scheduled to last until 2008, has identified focus areas as: increased production and product expansion; increased land access; increased youth development; improved access to agricultural credit; improved marketing; expanded extension services; research and technology development; and improved infrastructure.
Making his contribution to the 2005/06 Sectoral Debate in the House, yesterday (June 7), Mr. Clarke said that in the area of increased production and product expansion, the market for certified organically grown produce alone was reportedly some US$25 billion. “We are therefore, proposing an increase in production of 10 to 50 acres over three years,” he said.
“In the lucrative small ruminant sub-sector, Jamaica is supplying approximately 10 to 15 per cent of local demand. With the upgrading of our research capacity and improvement in the genetic stock through applied research, with farmer involvement, we are targeting 30 per cent per annum in the short-term,” the Minister pointed out.
Shifting attention to the apiculture sector, the Agriculture Minister noted that Jamaica had the highest recorded number of registered beekeepers in the Caribbean. He said that this, coupled with the factor of honey being seen as part of the trend towards healthier lifestyles, marketing opportunities have opened up locally and abroad.
“The capacity-building $15 million intervention funded by the Ministry’s Agricultural Support Services Project and the Jamaican Government proposes continued infrastructural upgrading, which will include the production of quality bees to improve the breeding stock in the short-term,” the Minister noted.
As for the fisheries sector, which the Minister said was the only agricultural sub-sector to record an increase in production for the last fiscal year, the Ministry has continued to highlight this industry as being critical to the livelihoods of over 100,000 Jamaicans. “We have allocated $15 million to deal with capacity building, to include research and development in aquaculture and marine fishery,” Mr. Clarke pointed out.

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