JIS News

Minister of State for Agriculture, Errol Ennis has said a number of projects have been implemented by the Ministry to increase production of a variety of traditional and non-traditional crops, which have good local and export potential.
In a statement read by Don McGlashan, the Ministry’s Chief Technical Director, on behalf of the State Minister, it was stated that the Ministry was achieving improved agricultural production by working with farmers and forging alliances with local and external agencies.
He was speaking on Friday (October 10) at the press launch of World Food Day 2003 at the Ministry’s offices on Hope Road in Kingston.
World Food Day will be observed on Thursday, October 16, under the theme: ‘International Alliance Against Hunger’.
It was also noted that the Ministry was achieving improved agricultural production by working with farmers and forging alliances with local and external agencies.
The projects highlighted include the Fruit Tree Crop, an import substitution initiative to meet the demands of agro processors and the Domestic Food Crop, which is geared towards increasing productivity and enhancing farm husbandry practices.
The Ministry’s Goat Production and Commercialisation project, which aims to improve the local breeding stock in order to enhance the income earning capacity of goat farmers, was also mentioned.
Mr. Ennis also pointed to the Milk Marketing project that is linked to the National School Feeding Programme. The objective of this programme is to improve the nutritional levels of children of primary school age.
World Food Day is an initiative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which was founded in 1945 with a mandate to raise levels of nutrition and standards of living, to improve agricultural productivity, and to better the condition of rural populations.
The FAO is a branch of the United Nations (UN).Mr. Ennis also noted that in the drive to reduce hunger, the Ministry’s Research and Development (R&D) Division was collaborating with international agencies including the FAO, the European Union (EU), the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and local institutions, such as the Scientific Research Council (SRC), the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) in the areas of pepper, banana, ginger and papaya research, among others.The objective of this research is to provide farmers with up to date information on pest management, increase productivity and develop new plant varieties.
In the case of hot pepper, the Ministry’s R& D department is using applied technology to develop a “pure” Jamaican red pepper line and a red scotch bonnet, which is more suitable for the agro processing industry.
Over 3,000 persons are involved in hot pepper production, which injects over US$1 million into the economy, making it one of the country’s most competitive crops.
The development of new lines of hot pepper will therefore help hot pepper farmers to tap into lucrative markets locally and niche market opportunities in North America and the United Kingdom.Minister Ennis also highlighted the contribution of the agricultural sector in the fight against hunger.He said that the Economic and Social Survey, issued by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), showed that the sector’s contribution to the GDP in 2002 was $22.8 billion.
The PIOJ Social Survey also showed that the sector supports an estimated 150,000 rural families, and is the main employer of labour, generating the largest amount of foreign exchange annually.

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