Machinery valued at $60.4 million has been donated to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries by the Government of the People’s Republic of China, in a bid to increase rice production in the island.
The equipment, which include harvesters, drying machines, seedling transplanters, tractors, harrows, ploughs and trucks, among others, were handed over on July 13, at the Agro Investment Corporation, AMC Complex, in Kingston.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, said the handing over of the equipment is an indication of the progress being made in the redevelopment of the rice industry in Jamaica.
Maintenance Technician at the Agro Investment Corporation, George Vernal, operates a rice seed planter, during the handing over of rice production equipment, donated by the Government of the People’s Republic of China. Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton accepted the equipment from China’s Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Chen Jinghua, at Agro Investment Corporation, AMC Complex, in Kingston, on July 13.
The move, he added, is an important development in the thrust towards securing Jamaica’s nutritional and food requirements.
The Minister commended the Chinese government and all the relevant stakeholders, noting that their contribution is critical in the revitalisation of the sector.
“We are very happy for this donation and the expertise that has come with it.to train our people in terms of maintaining the equipment,” he said.
Currently, Jamaica imports all of the 100,000 tonnes of rice consumed annually, and Dr. Tufton is aiming for the country to produce at least 20 per cent of Jamaica’s rice consumption needs.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton operates a harvester, one of the pieces of rice production equipment donated the Government of the People’s Republic of China, which were handed over by China’s Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Chen Jinghua, during a handing over ceremony at Agro Investment Corporation, AMC Complex, in Kingston, on July 13.
“Before the end of the year, it is our intention to put in the ground up to 2,000 hectares of rice. That is the quantity that we expect to reap, process and place on the market,” he told the gathering, adding that the aim is to engage in commercial rice cultivation.
China’s Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Chen Jinghua said the agricultural equipment would help to contribute to the growth and productivity of food crops and reduce post harvest losses, which are in line with the food security and poverty alleviation efforts of the Jamaican Government.
Director General, Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Professor Gladstone Hutchinson said that agricultural modernisation and development was essential to poverty alleviation in Jamaica.
“We expect that the expansion and growth in the agricultural sector, which this will contribute to, will translate into improved socio-economic well being for rural communities, as agriculture is the economic mainstay of many of these communities,” he said.
Professor Hutchinson added that there is a clear nexus between agriculture and rural development, and the enhancement of agricultural production creates opportunities that will enhance the quality of life for everyone.
Chief Executive Officer, Agro Investment Corporation, Hershell Brown informed that to date, there are 12 rice farmers involved in production across the island, adding that eight major prospective investors, for which land is being sought for rice production, are on board.