Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, said the Ministry will be working with farmers to get more local produce into the National School Feeding Programme to reduce cost and improve the nutrition of students.
“Our farmers are going to be asked to work in clusters to provide some of the nutrition for our school children. We (are) going (to) stop them from drinking bag juice and eating cheese trix. We want to give them some real Jamaican foods, Jamaican fruits,” he said.
The Minister was speaking at the Farmers Field School graduation ceremony held on Wednesday (June 5) at the Alhambra Inn in Kingston.
According to Minister Clarke, the move will help to reduce the country’s high food import bill, which is currently in excess of $930 million per year.
“If you know the amount of money spent on importing things in our school feeding programme, you would be shocked. Some of that money must go to our farmers so that they can help to produce some of those things that our children need,” he said, while committing to making the necessary changes to facilitate the process.
“We are going to organise the logistics so that you will be able to supply some of those schools,” he pledged.
The Farmers Field School, organised by the National Irrigation Commission, is a training programme to equip farmers with basic agro-ecology and crop management skills.
Some 28 lead farmers chosen from three irrigation districts – New Forest/Duff House, Manchester; Colbeck, St. Catherine and Yallahs, St. Thomas, graduated.
They received training to build capacity as lead facilitators for the Farmer Field School, and will continue the process of training fellow farmers.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter