Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, has said that Jamaica can reduce by as much as 30 per cent, its food import bill, if a number of initiatives are put in place.
The Minister was speaking with his Canadian counterpart, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Hon. Gerry Ritz, recently in Ottawa, Canada.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton (left) greets Associate Vice-President in the Policy and Programs Branch of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Paul Mayers, in Ottawa, Canada, recently.
In giving Mr. Ritz an overview of the Jamaican agricultural sector, Dr. Tufton said that Jamaica had several excellent commodities that needed to be developed. He included Blue Mountain coffee, Jamaican cocoa, and Jamaican ginger, which has been found to be nine times more potent than the next best ginger in the world.
Dr. Tufton said that, as a small country, Jamaica could not compete if cost of production was the determining factor. However, he said that the country was seeking to establish partnerships, in a number of areas, which would assist. He cited the strides Canada has made in genetics, especially in beef, pork and chicken, as examples.
The meeting took place in Mr. Ritz’s office. It was also attended by Jamaica’s High Commissioner to Canada, Her Excellency Sheila Sealy Monteith, as well as the Permanent Secretary in Jamaica’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Donovan Stanberry; Chief Technical Director, Dr. Marc Panton; and Director of the Centre of Excellence for Agriculture, Dr. Derrick Deslandes.
In a subsequent meeting with representatives of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Dr. Tufton reiterated the need to improve Jamaica’s ability to trace its food from “farm to plate”, requesting technical assistance from Canada to install a multi-purpose abattoir and to upgrade existing ones.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton (second right) and members of his delegation listen intently to the owner of SunTech Greenhouses in Ontario, Canada, Bob Mitchell (right) explain about hydroponic farming. Also pictured are Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Marc Panton (left) and Director of the Centre of Excellence for Advanced Technology in Agriculture, Dr. Derrick Deslandes (second left).
Traceability mechanisms are important in order to quickly identify animal diseases and minimize threats to other animals and people, Dr. Tufton said.
“That type of traceability is very important. Our vision is to be able to register the farm and animals, trace the animals, as they go through one of the abattoirs, and then all the way to the marketplace,” he explained.
Associate Vice-President in the Policy and Programs branch of CFIA, Paul Mayers, indicated his agency’s willingness to assist Jamaica, noting that traceability is one of the key drivers in responding to issues.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton (left) greets one of five Jamaican farm workers at the SunTech Greenhouses in Ontario, Canada, Orville Williams, who is from Kemps Hill, Clarendon.
Dr. Tufton and his delegation also visited SunTech, a hydroponic greenhouse owned by Bob Mitchell, which grows tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplants. The company employs five Jamaican farm workers.
Hydroponics, which is farming above ground without soil, has taken off in Canada in recent times, especially in Ontario.