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Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, on Wednesday, May 8, outlined a number of initiatives which have been advanced by the government to provide more efficient and effective service to the agricultural sector.

Mr. Clarke, who was making his contribution to the 2013/14 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives, informed that significant work was undertaken to rationalize the regulatory functions of the Cocoa, Coffee and Coconut Boards.

“These include consultations with stakeholders, research on best practices, review of existing legislation and development of the legal framework for the new entity as well as a structure for the merged entity. The work will be sufficiently advanced to allow me to take to Cabinet later this year specific proposals for a new structure, and new legislation,” he said.

In tandem with this initiative, work has also been advanced on the divestment of the commercial assets of the Cocoa Board.

“As we speak, the valuation of the assets is being carried out,” he said.

The Minister also announced that he now has the PriceWaterHouse Coopers recommendations on the restructuring of the Sugar Industry Authority and the Sugar Industry Research Institute, in light of the privatization of the industry and the changes in the marketing arrangements for sugar.

“The stakeholders have been consulted and I will shortly take those recommendations to Cabinet. At that point, full disclosure will be made to the public on the new structure,” he said.

Additionally, Mr. Clarke noted that Jamaica Exotic Flavours and Essences Limited, which is now part of the portfolio of the Ministry, has been playing a pivotal role in the School Feeding Programme by supplying purees and essences for juices.

“This entity is under-capitalized, and we think the nature of the services it provides makes it appropriate for divestment. In this regard, the Ministry intends to initiate proceedings for the divestment of this entity,” he said.

Contact: Alphea Saunders