As the Government moves to institute a Food and Nutrition Policy for Jamaica, the country’s farmers are again being urged to increase their output to support this and other efforts to safeguard the nation’s food security.
Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, who made the call during the Jamaica Agricultural Society’s (JAS) 118th Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on Wednesday, July 10, at the Denbigh showground in May Pen, Clarendon, said the administration is “determined” to develop the policy, to ensure “that our people have available and reasonably priced, nutritious foods.”
The Minister said, however, that this requires that the farmers “lead by example” by boosting outputs as well as diversifying production to support the policy’s objectives.
He cited as examples, “unfulfilled” markets for crops such as sweet potato, dasheen, corn, and red peas, and urged for focus on cultivating these produce.
Minister Clarke also underscored the need for farmers to be guided as to the appropriate periods for planting certain crops, so as to prevent gluts, and provided with assistance in establishing market linkages.
“The Jamaica Agricultural Society must assist to establish the linkages. The farmers have to come together so that you can find a way to make that linkage, and we are going to work together. I am prepared to work with the JAS in a very, very serious way, to address…that marketing problem,” the Minister assured.
Mr. Clarke, in the meantime, urged the farmers to increase their support for the JAS to enable the organisation to maximize its contributions to the sector.
He said that of the island’s approximately 230,000 active farmers, only 80,000 are affiliated with the JAS, and of that amount, only 15,000 have fulfilled their obligations to the entity, thus ensuring that their membership is up-to-date.
“If the farmers of this country cannot support their organisation…something is radically wrong. I must congratulate JAS on being 118 years old, but you are going to have to up the ante now. You are going to have to begin to chart a new way of doing things because things and times have changed; so you must start to believe in your organisation once more,” Mr. Clarke said.
JAS President, Senator Norman Grant, assured that the organisation is “prepared to work” with the Ministry and its agencies to ensure it contributes to maximizing the sector’s outputs.
Contact: Douglas McIntosh