JIS News

Minister of Agriculture, Roger Clarke is urging Caribbean countries to focus on implementing strategic measures to protect the environment in order to combat the effects of natural disasters, which could have adverse effects on agricultural food production and food security.
The Minister has made this appeal in light of the recent disasters, which have severely impacted the country’s agricultural sector.
He was speaking at a recent Caribbean Programme Meeting, hosted by the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA), held at the Jamaica Conference Centre.
“The Caribbean region’s vulnerability to natural disasters.only serves to emphasize the need for such planning to focus on environmental protection, in order to protect the region’s food supply,” the Minister stressed.
Mr. Clarke said that the level of imports now required in Jamaica would result in a high importation bill, as it has become necessary at this point to import agricultural produce to make up for the shortfall in the sector, after the devastation of Hurricane Ivan on September 10.
“When we have a lot of produce (that we produce ourselves) on our shelves, we are told that we can get things cheaper from abroad. Now that we have none, nothing is coming cheaper from abroad again,” he said.
“It just goes to show that we should do everything to protect local agriculture and deal with our own production, because when we do not have, nothing cheap will come,” the Minister added.
Mr. Clarke cited the 2003-2015 Agro-Plan of Action that was agreed on by the Heads of State of the Caribbean and the Americas. The plan, he said, was focused on sustainable agricultural development in the region, which would serve to encourage and promote sustainable production systems that would protect the region’s ecology, particularly its forest reserves.
The Minister noted the devastating effects Hurricane Jeanne had on Haiti as a result of severe deforestation on the island, and urged countries of the Caribbean to support sustainable environmental initiatives.
Mr. Clarke added that protection of the environment was a vehicle, which could impact poverty alleviation, whilst facilitating the development of rural communities.

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