• JIS News

    Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Christopher Tufton, says his Ministry is developing a Food Security and Nutrition Policy programme, to help define food security and how it can influence the nutritional requirements of Jamaicans.
    Speaking at the launch of the 58th Denbigh Agricultural Show, at Hi-Pro ACE, White Marl, St. Catherine, Wednesday (June 16), the Minister said he expected that the policy would be completed before the end of the year.
    The annual Denbigh Agricultural Show, staged by the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), is scheduled for July 31 to August 2 in May Pen, Clarendon under the theme “Grow what we Eat, Eat what we Grow”.
    Dr. Tufton, the guest speaker at the function, said that the food security and nutrition programme promises to help in the coordination of all future food security initiatives.
    “All the data we have examined, all the authoritative sources, looking at the past, present and future, suggest that, increasingly, the world must take more seriously the need to secure nutritional requirements in order to maintain stability,” he said.
    “If you look at the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organisation, the buzz word is food security in terms of agriculture,” he added.
    He stated that it is no longer a requirement for countries to concentrate on services, while depending on others to provide their food supply.
    “We at home have felt the impact of an over dependence on others to provide our food. Now, clearly, we can’t provide everything we require, but I think the message must be quite clear that we need to establish a policy, a strategy to, at least, have a critical mass for what we can grow,” he explained.
    He said, however, that the policy would not just look at providing an abundance of food, but would also look at the nutritional requirements needed to enhance and sustain a healthy society.
    Dr. Tufton stated that the Ministry has also completed an assessment of the types of food products that make up Jamaica’s annual US$850 million food import bill, to ascertain what percentage of these products could be replaced or substituted for local production.
    “When you look at that number, what you find is that a fair amount of the imports are not replaceable, unless you decide that you are going to do without it. But, in terms of direct replacement, just about 40 per cent or so could actually be directly replaced,” he posited.
    He encouraged more members of Corporate Jamaica to get involved in the agricultural sector.
    “If we take a little time to examine how large that market place is, I think we will reconcile and justify the need to spend even more time in the sector,” he stated.
    He reiterated that last year the combined efforts of Jamaican farmers produced food valued at approximately $106 billion, which represented a 13 per cent increase over the previous year. He said that number, in terms of output, represented the highest value of agricultural output since 2003.
    Dr. Tufton argued that, in terms of sheer size, the agricultural sector represented might.
    “In terms of opportunities we’re just scratching the surface, as there are so many other critical areas that we need to exploit,” he said.
    The function was chaired by the first vice-president of the JAS and head of the Denbigh planning committee, Senator Norman Grant. Other speakers included: JAS President, Councillor Glendon Harris; Opposition spokesperson on Agriculture, Roger Clarke; and Executive Director of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), Grace Silvera.

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