JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Over 3.5 million kilograms of produce have been harvested to date from the parks, such as onions, peppers, vegetables, potatoes, yams, melons and pineapples.
  • The objective of the agro parks is to bring underutilised rural land and labour into a more efficient agricultural production system. As a result, crops are being produced at competitive prices to facilitate import substitution, enhance the agricultural supply chain, deepen industrial linkages and increase food security.
  • Turning to the matter of irrigation, Minister Samuda noted that only about seven per cent of Jamaica’s irrigable lands are being provided with water, and the Ministry is moving to have a significantly greater proportion of those areas irrigated.

Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Karl Samuda, says the agro park concept will be expanded across the length and breadth of the island.

Currently, there are nine parks in operation, and the Minister said he would like to see the number grow.

“When I speak of an agro park, I’m speaking of a defined area where all of the facilities can be brought to bear, managed and brought to the assistance of the people, who want to do something in a serious way,” he noted.

Minister Samuda was addressing the opening ceremony for the climate smart agriculture symposium at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston today (September 13).

The objective of the agro parks is to bring underutilised rural land and labour into a more efficient agricultural production system. As a result, crops are being produced at competitive prices to facilitate import substitution, enhance the agricultural supply chain, deepen industrial linkages and increase food security.

Over 3.5 million kilograms of produce have been harvested to date from the parks, such as onions, peppers, vegetables, potatoes, yams, melons and pineapples.

“It is only by being organised, it is only by bringing to bear on each defined area the level of hard infrastructure in the form of roads and equipment and soft infrastructure in the form of training, that we will be able to be certain about the outcome of our production in each of those geographical areas,” Mr. Samuda said.

He noted that agriculture can no longer be undertaken in an ad hoc manner but should incorporate proper planning, assessment and strategies that are guided by data.

In the meantime, he suggested that orchard plants, such as ackees and mangoes, should be planted on the periphery of the parks.

He said that these crops if properly managed, can be reaped and exported. “There is an unlimited demand for our crops in the United Kingdom (UK) and other parts of Europe. They would spend any money in Europe to get a good East Indian or St. Julian mango, especially in the winter,” he pointed out.

Turning to the matter of irrigation, Minister Samuda noted that only about seven per cent of Jamaica’s irrigable lands are being provided with water, and the Ministry is moving to have a significantly greater proportion of those areas irrigated.

“With climate change, this is likely to become even more challenging, so we really have to be smart and innovative in how we harness the water and that we don’t waste it,” he pointed out.

Meanwhile, Mr Samuda cited the importance of partnerships and innovations to the continued development of the sector.

He said that agriculture will continue to grow the economy, noting that domestic crop production grew by more than 13 percent in the April to June quarter of 2016.

The two-day symposium is organised by the United States Agency for International Development Agency (USAID)-funded Jamaica Rural Economy and Ecosystems Adapting to Climate Change II (Ja REEACH II) project in collaboration with the Ministry.

It is being held under the theme ‘Growing Agriculture and Incomes in the Face of Climate Change’.