Minister of Agriculture, Roger Clarke, has urged Jamaican farmers to help make a difference in the industry, by concentrating on new crops for the world market.
To that end, he said the elements of pricing and presentation would be essential for the farmers to be successful.
Minister Clarke was speaking at the 49th staging of the Hague Agricultural Show, held in Trelawny on February 25 under the theme: ‘We are what we eat, eat Jamaican’.
Mr. Clarke noted that for farmers to make a mark in the industry, it was necessary for them to produce more coffee, ginger, ackee, breadfruit and fish, so they could satisfy the local and world markets.
Turning to sugar, the Minister said the industry should perform better than last year, and that “we need to make sure that it survives by producing the additional 70 tonnes that we have been importing”.
He said that such a goal would be achieved when the farmers sought to improve their productivity by adopting the most modern and appropriate agricultural practices, which would aid the country in positioning itself in the global marketplace.
On the topic of livestock, the Minister pointed out that farmers were only producing about 14 per cent of the goat meat needed, and that it was imperative that the farmers seek to expand in that area, by improving on the breed and improving production.
He cited some diseases which were affecting livestock in a few countries, such as ‘mad-cow’, ‘foot-and-mouth’ and ‘chicken flu’, and pointed out that the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) was working hard with the Veterinary division to ensure that “these do not come here, so our farmers can produce quality meat for the local market”.
The Minister mentioned the central marketing system to be set up by the JAS, adding that farmers needed to understand the importance of being consistent with supplies to meet the demands of sale agreements. Others participating in the opening ceremony were, Royland Barrett, Custos of the parish; Councillor Johnathan Bartley, Mayor of Falmouth; Patrick Harris, Member of Parliament, North Trelawny; and Glendon Harris, 1st Vice President of the JAS.