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Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, has emphasised that the sector has the greatest multiplier impact, and is the most effective short-term economic response to the immediate challenges facing the country.
“In a sense, agriculture could be described as a social stabilising factor, because of the short term response that is possible. It represents a stabilising force that allows an option for some of us who are challenged to find solutions to this particular crisis,” he said.
Dr. Tufton was speaking at the Ministry’s Agri-Investment Expo and Seminar, held on March 4, at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona campus.
“The Government therefore takes it seriously and today’s seminar represents one of a number of activities that is geared towards improving perception and exposing the opportunities that are available in the agricultural sector,” the Minister said.
“Seminars, such as this one, are intended to, in a targeted way, attract persons who have the potential and the interest to take on agricultural challenges and approach agriculture as a business, because that is what it is. It is not a welfare activity,” Dr. Tufton said.
The Minister stressed that the opportunities in the sector are many, and the seminar would afford the participants an opportunity to examine some of those critical opportunities. “We have a number of booths providing information on everything, from bee-keeping to honey-making. We have information on funding and how to secure funding; and we will provide you with information on the technical expertise that is available to develop business plans,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Bruce Golding in his remarks, said he was pleased with the response of persons attending the seminar. “It sends a clear message that agriculture in Jamaica is not dead, it isn’t about to die and we are not going to allow it to die,” he said.
“I am encouraged, because I think that it is still one of our primary untapped, unexploited resources and sources of growth and development,” Mr. Golding said.
The Prime Minister explained that the status of “our agricultural sector is best illustrated by the structure of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Agriculture employs some 18 per cent of our labour force, but it contributes less than six per cent to our GDP and that tells you that 18 per cent of your labour force is struggling to share six per cent of the wealth that is being created.”
“Therefore, the average income in the agricultural sector is one third of the national average, which is already not something with which we can be satisfied. We have no shortage of land in Jamaica, we have an abundance of idle lands. We have no shortage of labour, but we have an abundance of idle hands,” Mr. Golding said.
He said that if Jamaica was not investing money to add value to its agricultural products, “then quite frankly, we are wasting that money and we are going to be doomed to fail.”
The Seminar and Expo is being held under the theme ‘Investing in agriculture for food security’. The event will help prospective investors to learn about viable investment opportunities, as well as marketing support services available to facilitate investment in the sector.

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