JIS News

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Christopher Tufton, said that the Ministry will be focusing efforts on helping farmers with water management this year, given the frequency of droughts across the island.
He was speaking at a press briefing at the Ministry’s Hope Gardens office yesterday (February 2), where he reported that Jamaica experienced below average rainfall in nine of the 12 months of the year.
Dr. Tufton disclosed that the Ministry was looking at lands in sections of Jamaica that already have irrigation infrastructure but are not being used for agriculture. As part of this thrust, he said, the Ministry will provide incentives and technical support in order to get the owners of these lands to put them into production.
“I have said before that far too much of our most arable lands, nearly 50 per cent, are still not in production. These are lands that either have rivers and streams adjoining them or have irrigation infrastructure, piped water for farming purposes, and this is not acceptable,” he stated.
A major plank of this focus on water management, Dr. Tufton said, is the review of the country’s Land Utilisation Policy by the end of March. He said this will be backed by a public education campaign and community meetings in the targeted areas.
“If this programme is successful, we expect that this will sustain continued expansion in the sector despite any drought conditions during the course of this year,” Dr. Tufton predicted.
On the broader subject of managing risks in the agricultural sector, Dr. Tufton pledged that the Ministry will continue to pursue ways to reduce losses as a result of pests or hurricanes. He pointed to a study launched recently in collaboration with the World Bank, which is looking into the possibility of insurance for certain crops.