JIS News

As the preferential trade arrangement for Caribbean sugar producers with the European Union (EU) draws to a close, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said the government’s productivity improvement programme for the sector is moving steadily ahead and will be boosted by an injection of up to 20 Million Euros per annum over the next five years.
She made the disclosure on Monday (Aug. 6) while addressing the closing ceremony of the annual Denbigh Agricultural Show in Clarendon, under the theme ‘Agro-technology – advancing national development.’
Mrs. Simpson Miller said $250 Million would also be made available to small cane farmers to help them adjust to the divestment of the industry and allow them to rehabilitate and replant their fields. “Productivity improvement and privatization are at the heart of the modernization and transformation of the sugar industry and those who could be most severely affected cannot be ignored,” the Prime Minister said.
Turning to the banana industry, Mrs. Simpson Miller said the sector has been carving out a niche in the international market. She said $74.3 Million have been secured through the EU to support banana farmers with training and the upgrading of production processes to meet new export compliance requirements.
The Prime Minister also announced the establishment of a Banana Catastrophe Fund to assist farmers with recovery from losses suffered due to natural disasters. Loans are also being made available to farmers at single digit rates through a special pool of funds comprising $250 Million from the National Insurance Fund, $250 Million from the Bank of Nova Scotia Jamaica Ltd. and a further allocation of $2.5 Billion from the Petro Caribe Fund.
Mrs. Simpson Miller said that given the changing rules in international trade, threats to traditional exports and the opening up of our domestic market to increased competition, modernization and the application of technology are crucial to the transformation of the agriculture sector. She said in order for the sector to survive and remain competitive, existing methods of production must be modernized and new technologies embraced.

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