JIS News

State Minister for Agriculture and Lands, Errol Ennis, has said that the Ministry would be taking the lead in making venture capital financing available to investors on the presentation of marketable projects, rather than just on the strength of collateral.
Mr. Ennis, who was addressing an investment workshop at the Old Port Antonio Marina on Friday (Dec. 1), said that the move was aimed at jump starting commercial agricultural production in order to achieve sustainability within the sector.
The Ministry, he said, was aware that access to land and capital were critical factors for the stimulation of investment in agriculture and so intended to make idle state lands available as part of a “deliberate and conscious” move to expand production.
Meanwhile, he pointed to the need to revitalize the economy on the basis of a modernized and efficient agricultural sector, noting that this development would enable the farmers of the country to command considerable respect due to the earning capacity they would have acquired.
He noted that for too long, Jamaicans have embraced the profile of a farmer as a semi-literate, elderly man with a piece of land on a hillside, who, armed with his hoe, machete and broad hat, set out at dawn and toiled throughout the day to eek out a meagre living.
The workshop which was attended by farmers from Portland, St. Mary and St. Thomas was aimed at encouraging potential investors in the various ventures to partner with the government in sustainable agricultural business enterprises.
Identified were a number of high yielding commodities for which Jamaica has a competitive advantage in both local and exports markets and which are being recommended by the Ministry.
Among the business opportunities discussed at the workshop were hot pepper investment, protected cultivation and hydroponics, the development of a fruit tree crop industry, coffee, cocoa and banana cultivation, bee-keeping, sheep and pig production and irrigation.
Those making presentations included Don McGlashan, Chief Technical Director in the Ministry; Naburn Nelson, Secretary Manager of the Cocoa Industry Board; Hugh Smith, Senior Plant Protection Officer in the Ministry; and David Miller, Chief Livestock Research Officer, Ministry of Agriculture.