JIS News

Minister of Agriculture, Roger Clarke officially launched Farmers’ Month on Wednesday (April 7), which is observed annually in April.
In his address to members of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) at their offices on Church Street in Kingston, Minister Clarke stated that there was growing awareness of agriculture’s importance to the economy.
“The people of Jamaica are beginning to understand that they have a responsibility to support us in this drive,” the Minister stated.
“Because if they were to do that, we would significantly reduce Jamaica’s import bill of food and this would significantly help with our balance of payments situation,” he declared.
The month’s theme which reflects the JAS’ year long ‘Eat Jamaican’ campaign is “We are what we eat, so let’s eat Jamaican”.
“Eating Jamaican” would also help to secure many jobs in the rural areas thus stemming the rural urban drift, Minister Clarke stressed. This would lead to a decrease in crime statistics.
The Agriculture Minister stated that this year had shown growth in domestic agriculture with the reaping of 171,000 tonnes of more than 16 types of vegetables; 46,000 tonnes of fruit; 152,000 tonnes of yam and 36,000 tonnes of other tubers including dasheen and coco.
Minister Clarke noted that there had been improvements in pepper and escallion production and urged farmers to grow crops for which there are guaranteed markets.
Turning to ginger, he mentioned that the country stood to produce 100 tonnes this year in contrast to 2001 when only one tonne was produced. The country is now exporting green ginger, he added.
Minister Clarke urged the JAS to identify farming groups that could benefit from the Agricultural Support Services Project (ASSP), which provides grants and marketing assistance to these groups.
Explaining how the ASSP works, the Minister said, “we are not going to plant crops unless there is an assured market for it. We begin on the premise that the market has to be identified before we make farmers go out and plant.”
Minister Clarke also participated in the symbolic handing over of keys representing three refrigerated trucks given to the JAS as part of the central marketing system. The system will be launched in Bull Savannah, St. Elizabeth in May.
Farmers’ month activities commenced with a national church service held at Fellowship Tabernacle, Half Way Tree Road, on Sunday, April 4.
An exhibition will be mounted at the Trelawny Parish Library during Farmers’ Month while a number of thanksgiving church services, marketing seminars and field days will be held throughout the parishes.
The month’s activities will climax with an ‘Eat Jamaican Gala’ on Friday, April 30 at the Knutsford Court Hotel.

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