JIS News

Member of Parliament for North Western St. Elizabeth, J.C. Hutchinson has suggested that the Ministry of Agriculture should immediately identify persons as verifiers in the event of another national disaster, as this would make the process of verifying loss easier than that which obtained after Hurricane Ivan last year.
“These persons should be trained and ready, to go out into the field the day after a disaster occurs,” he said, suggesting further that, “these persons could be drawn from officers of youth clubs, community development councils, the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) branches, citizens associations and service clubs,” he said.
Mr. Hutchinson was making his presentation in the 2005/06 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on June 7.
The Member of Parliament said a number of pastors and Justices of the Peace had already indicated that they would be willing to work in this capacity, noting that most of these individuals were themselves farmers and would therefore have an intimate knowledge of the genuine farmers in their communities.
“Two days after a disaster, the names of those suffering losses could be submitted. In this way, you would also be able to identify the animals and birds lost. We therefore, would be able to eliminate the bogus farmers, so only genuine ones would be compensated and the assistance reaching their hands within six weeks,” he submitted.
On another matter, Mr. Hutchinson called on the government to lower the General Consumption Tax (GCT) on agricultural equipment and to develop a wholesale market with grading and packaging stations with a processing plant for value added products. He suggested that the cost of inputs be lowered, thereby reducing production cost and making the produce more competitive.
He said greater emphasis should be placed on value added products. “This will require special agricultural varieties to facilitate processing, modern processing techniques to make purees and extract flavours, essences and functional foods, along with other products,” he said.
Mr. Hutchinson said Jamaica also needed to find markets for its high quality goods where they have an advantage. “This will require the ability to produce with assurance in quality, quantity and time, to suit changing tastes and conditions,” he added.
He pointed out that Jamaica must be prepared to adapt to the elimination or erosion of a preferential trade regime and compete in a single world market. “We therefore have to identify the products that can compete in this global economy. The world economy has changed and for us to survive, we must have the ability to discern changes, to adopt new technology and rapidly re-organise our agricultural sector,” he emphasized.
Mr. Hutchinson expressed concern in terms of the country’s readiness and the implementation of new trade agreements, pointing out that economic co-operation and harmonization in the CARICOM Single Market and Economy had to be a bottom up process.
“The private sector and civic society has to be the catalyst in this process. To achieve this, the big conglomerates along with middle players and small players will have to be a cohesive body in driving the process forward, collaborating with a united legislative position,” he said.

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