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  • Minister of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, is expecting the agricultural sector to continue its recovery during this quarter.
  • The Minister said that since 2012, the sector has experienced both “highs and lows,” beginning the recovery in 2013, which continued into the first two quarters of last year, with growth rates of 18 and 12.6 per cent, respectively.
  • Mr. Kellier said the Ministry’s resolve is to position the sector to achieve higher levels of growth and so contribute to increased GDP, employment, rural development and a reduction of the food import bill.

Minister of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, is expecting the agricultural sector to continue its recovery during this quarter.

The Minister said that since 2012, the sector has experienced both “highs and lows,” beginning the recovery in 2013, which continued into the first two quarters of last year, with growth rates of 18 and 12.6 per cent, respectively.

“With the continuing drought, the positive growth trend was reversed, but we were not daunted and in fact by December 2014 there were numerous reports from farmers and higglers attesting to an abundance of food for the Christmas season, thanks to our initial $33 million intervention as part of our drought response and mitigation efforts,” he said.

The Minister was addressing reporters at a Jamaica House Media Briefing yesterday (February 5), in Montego Bay, St. James, at the Prime Minister’s western office.

He said that an additional $95 million was approved in September for continued mitigation measures and “we expect the recovery to continue during the current quarter.”

Mr. Kellier said the Ministry’s resolve is to position the sector to achieve higher levels of growth and so contribute to increased GDP, employment, rural development and a reduction of the food import bill.

On the matter of production in the west, the Minister informed that the parishes of St. James and Hanover produced some of the largest volumes in ginger, all of which contributed to the 1197.9 tonnes produced last year. This was the highest amount recorded in 25 years, he said.

Mr. Kellier further stated that under the National Food Safety project, approximately $20 million has been granted to 20 farmers and exporters to build the capacity of farmers to meet the requirements of the United States’ Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), 2011.

To date, over 5,000 farmers across the island have been exposed to FSMA and trained in pesticide management and record keeping, while another 200 were trained in Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), he said.

The Minister also revealed that prototypes for on-farm sanitation, packaging shed and storage facilities have been developed and grants provided to farmers and exporters to upgrade their facilities in this manner.

He also informed that the Agriculture Ministry intends to pursue the Global Gap Certification Programme, a requirement for the export market and all agro-parks.

Global Gap is a non-governmental organization that sets voluntary standards for the certification of agricultural products across the world.

 

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