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Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, has called on farmers to approach agriculture with clear management techniques as is done in other industries.
“Agriculture is transforming, things are changing, and agriculture has to be demand- driven. Gone are the days when you grow and then hope that there is a market. We want you to become investors in agriculture where you are informed with what is demanded, and produce to fit that market,” he said while addressing farmers on his Ministry’s agenda in post harvest management, held yesterday (December 10) at the Top Hill Assembly of God, in Southfield, St. Elizabeth.
“We have to find a way to produce what we produce better, and ensure that our consumers, that they are satisfied with what we are producing. It must taste good, and it must be reasonable in terms of price. If you are to make something out of it, you have to engage best practices, using the best possible technology to bring the produce that you grow to them, in a way that they want it,” he told the farmers.
Dr. Tufton said the soon to be operated post harvest facility in the parish, has been equipped with millions in investment, and will provide farmers with a consistent market for their produce. He warned them to stick to the contracts that they will be entering into with Grace Kennedy, as any form of deviation will derail the process and see farmers suffering from gluts on the market.
“This is an entity with a track record of performance. ensure that you start this relationship on the right footing. This relationship is a business relationship, perform well and you are compensated, don’t perform (and) you are on your own. You have to do what you must do to make it right. The days when you used to farm and then worry that somebody will come and buy it from you, we are helping you as a Government to put an infrastructure in place so that that worry is minimised,” the Minister stated.
The forum was organised to update farmers in the area on how to manage demand and supply, and to avoid gluts in the agricultural market, and to provide information on the benefits to be derived from the Hounslow Packaging House that the government has leased to Grace Kennedy.
Under the lease agreement with the government for the Hounslow post harvest facility, Grace Kennedy will identify produce that are demanded and advise farmers of the demand, and also enter into contracts for them to supply the company.