Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, is calling for closer collaboration between the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) and the Ministry in the staging of shows islandwide.
"The overwhelming features of these shows must be what our farmers have done, put them on display and everything and everyone that aid their efforts – the input suppliers and others – so that at the end of the shows, people are more convinced to buy Jamaican, people are more convinced to support our farmers and the farmers are motivated to continue," the Minister said.
Dr. Tufton was speaking to journalists at the Hague Agricultural and Livestock Show, which was held at the Hague Show Grounds in Falmouth, Trelawny, on March 09.
The Minister said that if the shows are not properly planned, "we run the risk of compromising the efforts of the farmers."
Dr. Tufton said that he was concerned at the general quality, planning and organisation of the Hague show, and called for a review of this and other related shows, which he emphasised was necessary, if the Ministry is going to continue to endorse and identify with them.
"I have toured the facility and have seen the displays and I am disappointed with the quality of the show this year. I have seen the efforts of a number of farmers here and the farmers continue to do well, but I think overall, in terms of the planning and the arrangements, the show does not, to my mind, reflect the outstanding efforts of our farming community, certainly over the past year. Last year we had the highest domestic production in eleven years, over 500,000 tonnes of food produced for domestic consumption," the Minister said.
Dr. Tufton said that some four weeks ago he toured the parish and observed the activities of small and medium size farmers, engaged in agricultural practices using drip irrigation and other technologies.
"I really must say that I was hoping to see some of that here today; instead there is a mixture of some agricultural activities of livestock and crops, but also quite a bit of other non-agricultural, commercial activities. This is really not what I would love to see reflected or put on display at an agricultural show, which is supposed to identify with, and demonstrate the efforts and output of our farmers over the previous year," the Minister argued.
Dr. Tufton said the time had come for all stakeholders to sit with the Ministry and review the format and approach.
"I am going to get involved in the process. I am going to pull a team together, chaired by myself or the Permanent Secretary, bringing together critical stakeholder groups to have a serious discussion about the way forward, as it relates to our agricultural shows," the Minister said.
JIS REGIOINAL OFFICE