JIS News

Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, has accused Opposition spokesman, Roger Clarke, of acting irresponsibly in his statements on the issue of cheap, organic-based fertilizer imported by the Government last year to assist local farmers.
“Irresponsible and, frankly speaking, selfish,” Dr. Tufton described statements made by the Mr. Clarke in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, and at a press conference yesterday, suggesting that the product could be unhealthy because of its bio solids base.
“The statements he made in Parliament, and subsequent to that, demonstrates that he does not care about the farmers of Jamaica, at a time when the country is going through a crisis,” Dr. Tufton said.
He suggested that the responsible reaction from the Opposition, if there was a genuine concern about the contents of the fertilizer, would have been to call him aside and discuss it. However, he said that it was obvious that Mr. Clarke had set out, instead, to create alarm to score personal political points.
Dr. Tufton, who was speaking at a press briefing at Jamaica House, assured Jamaicans that the fertilizer sourced by the government to reduce input costs to farmers was safe.
“We are convinced, based on the science and based on all the work that we have done, both locally and overseas, that the product is safe,” he explained.
“It offers no risk to the farmer, it offers no risk to the consumer and it has provided the farmers with a cheaper option to carry out their functions,” he concluded.
He was supported by fellow Cabinet member, Karl Samuda, the Minister of Industry, Investments and Commerce(MIIC), which sourced the material.
Mr. Samuda explained that the use of bio solids did not mean that raw sewage was used in the production of the fertilizer, as the solids go through a process to produce a residue which becomes an ingredient.
Dr. Tufton said that an independent lab was engaged by the MIIC to test the product, prior to its importation. The tests showed that the fertilizer contained the necessary nutrient value and there was no question that it had fulfilled its promise.
“The product has performed beyond the farmers’ expectations, and there is a demand from them for more,” Dr. Tufton said.
“This is a by-product of a process. It is not human excrement,” he said, while pointing out that there is confirmation from federal and state agencies in the United States, from where it was imported.
He also noted that it was not new for the Government to use bio solids as the basis of agricultural production.
This was confirmed by Dr. Audia Barnett, executive director of the Scientific Research Council(SRC), who noted that there have been experiments in Jamaica using waste water to promote agricultural production since the 1990s.

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