Dr. Tufton Encourages Agricultural Competitiveness


Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, has said that the country’s agricultural sector must become more globally competitive, to be sustainable.
“The liberalisation of (the marketplace) is becoming more the norm than the exception. What it means for us is that – we have to offer things in a way that gives us preference among a menu of options that the sophisticated consumers are exposed to, whether in Europe, in North America or even here (Jamaica),” the Minister said.
He was speaking at the opening ceremony of a National Farmer Experimentation and Innovation Workshop for Extension Officers, hosted by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA) in collaboration with the Rural Agricultural and Development Authority (RADA), at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge and Conference Centre, University of the West Indies (UWI), Tuesday (September 28).
He pointed out that, even though the country is recognised as having small farmers and fragmentation of farm lands, Jamaica has the advantage of producing great tasting products based on the chemical profile and make up of products.
Being that local markets have become liberalised over the last two decades, and people can therefore choose between the local products and the imported ones, Dr. Tufton argued that Jamaica has to compete based on quality, uniqueness and brand recognition.
He noted that Jamaica does have a reputation in the market place for its products, which tend to have superior quality, though not usually in abundance.
“That requires expertise and it requires innovation, it requires creativity of thought and application, it requires us to take a five-acre plot of escallion or thyme and pepper and concoct a mix or a formula called jerk sauce, properly packaged and positioned in the marketplace, as truly Jamaican with a unique taste,” he suggested.
Dr. Tufton argued that what makes Jamaica’s products special is the unique approach developed; not a one size fits all approach, but doing a few things that nobody else is doing and claiming that uniqueness.
“We have to help our farmers to be creative, to be innovative, to do the best practices, but to focus on quality output of the limited quantities that they can determine; and we are going to have to integrate our primary products into a value-added stage to create brands that can be recognised as unique and special,” he said.
The four-day workshop which will run September 28 to October 1, was designed to develop the capacity of extension organisations to mainstream innovations framework, and support science technology and innovation integration into advanced training, research and outreach for improving the performance of Agricultural Science Technology and Innovation (ASTI) systems.

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