Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw, has reiterated that some lands that were once used for sugar-cane production will soon be rationalised for the growing of other crops.
Speaking at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) Employee Engagement Conference 2018, at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston on Monday (October 22), the Minister said the time has come for different crops to be invested in, and not sugar.
“On my desk right now is the report of the rationalisation of sugar lands. I don’t want the sugar people to be nervous when I say this, but we’ll never go back into production using all of our lands for sugar again. It’s not going to happen, so let’s just call a spade a spade and let’s get ready for land use other than sugar,” Mr. Shaw emphasised.
“We’re not trying to bounce the people who are in sugar out of it. We’re rationalising and we’re going to make you more efficient, but we’re going to make lands available for so many other things,” he added.
The Minister said that the rationalisation project will result in sugar being produced on smaller acres of land, and new investment opportunities will be offered to farmers for the production of other crops.
“In Parliament (recently), I gave an example. We’re talking about a School Feeding Programme where 80 per cent of all we feed the children is imported. Yet, we can produce all we want to produce… that are much more highly nutritious than imported flour and rice,” Mr. Shaw said.
He further noted that two new products that can be looked at for the programme are breadfruit flour and cassava flour.
“We don’t recognise the wealth that we are sitting on in this country. We can feed ourselves and we can export surpluses. We can feed our school children in a more nutritious manner, using what we grow,” the Minister said.
The conference will be held until October 23 under the theme ‘Disturb. Reconnect. Engage’.
It is being hosted for approximately 500 employers, with the objective of empowering and encouraging them to transform their workplaces into spaces that inspire their employees, and offer the kind of leadership and appropriate management systems that will enable their employees to understand and accept their role as important stakeholders in business processes, and as key players in achieving sustainable productivity.