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Minister of Agriculture and Land, Roger Clarke, announced today (May 30), that the Ministry has earmarked $200 million to assist farmers across the island to carry out high-yielding, competitive projects.
Speaking at the launch of the National Consultation Workshop on Food and Nutrition Security and Vulnerability Profiling at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston, Minister Clarke said these projects are currently being implemented.
“Additionally, with poverty reduction and food security as one of our primary objectives, with assistance from several international funding agencies, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the European Union (EU), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the International Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), we are also accelerating our programmes to effect social and economic empowerment in rural farming communities, as well as those of inner-city areas,” the Minister emphasized.
He pointed out that agricultural sectors in the region were virtually under siege, based on the looming reality of the removal of the preferential tariffs, “which have ensured our sustainability, thus far”.
The Minister said that the situation was all the more critical, as data collected by the FAO’s Systems Economists showed that “poverty, unemployment and food supply data, indicate that significant segments of the Caribbean population may not have access to sufficient food”.
“Countries with significant higher economic and agricultural growth, have the greatest success in hunger and poverty reduction”, Minister Clarke pointed out.
The Minister said that in Jamaica, the 2005 Survey of Living Conditions, compiled by the Planning Institute of Jamaica and the Statistical Institute (STATIN) indicated that the national poverty average decreased during the period 1999 to 2005, from 16.9 per cent to 14.8 per cent.
“While rural poverty also declined by 4.1 per cent during this period. it remained 6.3 percentage points higher than the national average of 14.8 per cent in 2005,” he added.
Mr. Clarke said that the Consultation fell within the ambit of the capacity building component of the FAO Food Security Project, under which a national food security assessment would be conducted.
“This assessment will involve, the collection and analysis of data on household incomes and food consumption patterns; a vulnerability analysis, identifying the location, characteristics and coping mechanisms of those at greatest risk, together with the critical factors threatening future food security; and the making of recommendations, as to policies and strategies to be put in place to address these issues,” the Minister noted.
The project is expected to improve the food security situation of the CARIFORUM States by increasing the availability and access to adequate quantities of safe, quality-assured food products.