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Minister of Agriculture, Roger Clarke, has highlighted the link between agriculture and national development, stressing that one could not take place without the other.
“As we look to the future, and the importance of agriculture to rural development, one begins to recognize that agriculture will continue to play an increasingly important role in national development,” he said.
The Minister was addressing the media launch of the Montpelier Agricultural and Industrial Show on March 22, at the St. James offices of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), in Catherine Hall, Montego Bay. The show is scheduled to be held on Easter Monday, April 9.
Citing the increased infrastructural development taking place within the tourism sector, Minister Clarke pointed out that contractual linkages that were being put in place between the tourism and agricultural sectors, were very important in boosting economic development.
He pointed out that the Government has been working assiduously to reposition the farmers of the country to make use of the many opportunities available through investments in tourism, adding that there should be improved allocations for the farming sector in the coming financial year.
“We have decided that agriculture must move to a higher level. The Ministry itself is going to be overhauled in a very substantial way, to make it even more farmer friendly,” the Minister said.
“Within the Ministry, we are going to put a system in place which becomes like a one-stop shop, and RADA is going to be challenged in a most profound way, not only to provide extension service by telling the farmers how to plant, but to tell them what to plant, when to plant, where the markets are, what is profitable, and what is not profitable,” he added.
The Minister emphasized that an effort would also be made to attract more young people to the farming sector, through emphasis on technological improvements. Productivity, he said, has to be the order of the day within the farming sector.
President of the St. James Association of Branch Societies of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Glendon Harris, noted that this year marks the 17th renewal of the show.
He said that approximately $2 million is being spent on the production of this year’s event.