MANDEVILLE – Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Christopher Tufton, is urging local producers to seize opportunities created by the global food shortages, by investing in increased output.
Speaking at a Jamaica Exporters Association (JEA)/Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) sponsored training and capacity building project for farmers, at Brooks Park, Mandeville, Wednesday (March 30), he noted that with the recent disaster in Japan, and other issues affecting grain production, food security is once again a priority.
“I think all circumstances are coming together to create one of the best opportunities we have ever had. Globally, the world is challenged to provide food for its people; everybody is considering this issue of food security, in a way that they have never considered it,” he said.
He noted that with the disasters that are taking place, as unfortunate as they are and as sympathetic as Jamaica must be to those areas, "we must invest in our own nutrients, and where we can we must invest in assisting other places in the world to access those nutrients."
The Minister also urged farmers to utilize the technology provided by his ministry, through the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), to attain the best yields from their crops. He said that, through a partnership with the University of the West Indies (UWI), farmers will be advised about areas and crops to plant in particular geographical areas.
He said that Jamaica is developing a programme to map the country, using satellite imagery, to determine the environment that exists in particular locations, and what crops are best suited to be grown in what areas to get the best possible yields.
“Coming out of that experience, which is ongoing, we are hoping to say to farmers in particular areas, it is better to grow this particular this crops at this time of the year, because it is going to give you the best yield,” he told his audience.
A speech delivered by board member of JSIF, Yvonne Fredricks, on behalf of Managing Director, Scarlette Gillings, outlined that the training is to equip farmers with management skills.
“It is now your responsibility to share and use the information learned. Let other see you put into practice the techniques, and let us rejoice with you as your income grows,” she said.
The objective of the training and capacity building project was to increase the income earning of some 275 farmers from Manchester and St. Elizabeth, by improving their access to various markets, including regional and international exporters and importers, through effective marketing tools.
By GARFIELD L. ANGUS