KINGSTON — Prime Minister, Hon. Andrew Holness, is forecasting that the agricultural sector will see continued growth as a result of the "careful plans" that are being implemented by the Government.
He said the plans, which include enhancing extension services to farmers, providing fertilizer and other inputs, and bringing technology to the sector, including greenhouses, have brought four consecutive years of growth to agriculture.
Prime Minister Holness, who was speaking to farmers in St. Mary at a meeting held on Tuesday November 29th at the Gray’s Inn Sports Club in Annotto Bay, he informed them, that the Government is also providing financing and assisting farmers to source markets for their goods.
"Every year, agriculture has shown an improvement. That is due to the fact that in addition to (having) the plans, we have… implemented the plans," he stated.
The Prime Minister said that with the support being provided, "we expect agriculture to provide the employment and the growth that we know it can. I believe that agriculture will grow even more."
Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Robert Montague, announced that the Government has settled on a number of programmes that will see increased security for fisherfolk at sea, and financing and training for persons in the sector.
"We have just concluded an $18 million programme to provide safety gears for our fishermen, and igloos for our fisherwomen. We have just signed off, at the Fisheries Development Board, for $5 million to put in place a radio system around the country, so that when our fisherfolk go to sea, no longer will they be lost and the families wonder where they are. We can communicate with them from land," Mr. Montague said.
He also informed of a partnership between the University of the West Indies (UWI), and the St. Mary Parish Council to offer "training to our fishermen and our fisherwomen in small business development, and management," which will get underway shortly.
As it relates to financing, Mr. Montague said that fisherfolk can access a $50 million fund, at nine per cent interest, through the People’s Cooperative (PC) Bank, to expand their business.
The fund comes under the Fisheries Programme.
By Garfield L. Angus, JIS Reporter