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Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, is encouraging farmers to increase production, as markets are available.

Speaking at the handover of agricultural inputs to St. Catherine farmers at a forum held on June 11 in Dunkeld, in the parish, he said farmers should use the support being provided by the Government and the private sector to boost cultivation of food crops, because markets exist for the produce.

“It is a time for you to go and cultivate; it doesn’t matter what you cultivate, there is a market for your produce,” Mr. Hutchinson emphasised.

He pointed out that farmers should rekindle their efforts in food production, because when schools reopen, and the hotels return to normal operation, there will be increased opportunities for the supply of fresh produce, adding that “we are not producing enough now for local consumption”.

“It doesn’t matter what you plant at this time, there is a market for whatever you plant,” the Minister told the farmers.

The farmers were presented with some of the $12 million worth of agricultural inputs to be given to farmers across the island, provided by H and L Agro, and Newport Fersan as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr. Hutchinson said the country cannot go through the COVID-19 crisis successfully alone, and collaborations with the two companies and others are “true testament” to the tremendous impact that can be achieved in partnerships.

“We have to ensure that there is access to agricultural inputs and increased production for the next season,” he added.

Mr. Hutchinson reported that the Ministry, through the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), recently allocated an initial $10 million from the Production Incentive Programme to procure seeds, water tanks, planting materials, fertilisers and chemicals for distribution to farmers to stimulate production and productivity.

He encouraged the farmers to utilise the items given by H and L Agro and Newport Fersan (seeds, chemicals and fertilisers) “to ensure that our nation is able to successfully forge ahead, especially during these trying times”.

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