Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, has said that he will be looking at measures to improve the horticultural industry, which has seen a decline since Hurricane Gilbert in 1988.
Dr. Tufton, who was addressing the 47th staging of the St. Elizabeth Horticultural Society Annual Flower Show, held at Independence Park, in Black River, on April 5, argued that the industry has economic potential, and he would be setting up a team at the Ministry to ensure its growth.
“This show is part of us; it is a part of our history, our heritage and our culture, and beyond today, I am going to initiate some discussions, so that we may put some more effort to see to what extent we can stimulate horticulture,” he told the large audience of flower enthusiasts.
Members of the Pride of Exchange marching band from Black River, St. Elizabeth, perform at the opening of the 47th staging of the St. Elizabeth Horticultural Society’s Annual Flower Show, held at Independence Park, in Black River, on April 5.
Pointing out the economic viability of growing flowers, Dr. Tufton said the persons who have remained in the industry must be commended for their resilience. “We believe that people can make money out of it, and with investments, it will be sustainable,” he emphasised.
In his address, President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS),
Mr. Glendon Harris, said horticulture has moved from being deemed a hobby, to a lucrative commercial venture.
“The need to further educate persons to become responsible and take ownership of the immediate surroundings, and the utilisation of idle lands for both agriculture and horticulture production is a task that we must actively pursue. Horticulture can diversify cropping systems, reduce pesticide misuse, and conserve soil and water. Both the Horticultural Society and the JAS need to work even closer to get the message out on the many benefits to be derived from investing in horticulture,” Mr. Harris said.
Meanwhile, Director of the St. Elizabeth Horticultural Society, Mrs. Joyce Francis, said that interest remains firm in the annual event, and the members are committed to the organisation. “It is love of flowers, and love of people. This year we had a challenge to put on the show, but the Minister stepped in and helped us get some sponsors, and because of the sponsors, we were able to employ more people,” she said.