JIS News

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  • Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, says agriculture has returned to its “positive growth trajectory”, which he credits to the resilience of farmers.
  • He noted that the rebound has resulted in an 18 per cent growth for the first three months of 2014.
  • The Minister noted that the growth came after devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and a prolonged drought resulting in declines of up to 11 per cent in the first half of 2013.

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, says agriculture has returned to its “positive growth trajectory”, which he credits to the resilience of farmers, and strategies that the Ministry employed to revive the sector.

He noted that the rebound has resulted in an 18 per cent growth for the first three months of 2014, and an increase of 14 per cent in the last three months of 2013.

Making his contribution to the Budget Debate in the House of Representatives, on Wednesday, April 23, the Minister noted that the growth came after devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and a prolonged drought resulting in declines of up to 11 per cent in the first half of 2013.

“With the overall sector growing by 5.9 per cent and 13.1 per cent, respectively, in the third and fourth quarters of 2013, the figures for the domestic food crop sector are 8.4 per cent and 14 per cent,” the Minister told the House.

Commending the island’s farmers who ensured that agriculture remained buoyant, he said preliminary estimates for the first quarter of 2014 are indicating approximately 18.7 per cent growth in the domestic food crop sub-sector. “I must acknowledge and salute the resilience of our small farmers who are the main drivers of this growth,” the Minister said.

Mr. Clarke also reported that non-traditional food exports have seen a 5.7 increase, taking earnings to US$152.7 million. “This is due to increased yam exports, 13.3 per cent; ackee, 12.0 per cent; sauces, 3.2 per cent; conch and lobster, 23.3 per cent; sweet potato, 25.6 per cent; and pumpkin, 33.3 per cent,” he noted.

Mr. Clarke said the Government will continue to pursue the agro-parks initiative to achieve best practices in the sector, and enhance agricultural production and competitiveness. “We have to pursue this goal with the greatest vigour, whilst maintaining support to our small farmers,” the Minister emphasized.

He reported that Irish potato self-sufficiency, through intensive training by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), has surpassed projection of 79 per cent, achieving 86.9 per cent in local production. For ginger production, which is about to be reaped, it is projected to yield some 3,000 metric tonnes, “representing a 25-year record.”

“These results have been achieved because of targeted interventions by the Ministry, in relation to research, supply of clean planting material and other inputs, as well as guaranteed markets,” the Minister stated.