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  • Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Derrick Kellier, is reporting that the country’s food import bill declined by 11.5 per cent last year, representing savings of J$10.5 billion (US$88.7 million) over the corresponding period in 2014.
  • He was speaking at the 2016 Hague Agricultural and Livestock Show in Falmouth, Trelawny, on Wednesday, February 10.
  • Minister Kellier credited the decline to “deliberate strategies” to increase food production, including the agro parks programme.

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Derrick Kellier, is reporting that the country’s food import bill declined by 11.5 per cent last year, representing savings of J$10.5 billion (US$88.7 million) over the corresponding period in 2014.

He was speaking at the 2016 Hague Agricultural and Livestock Show in Falmouth, Trelawny, on Wednesday, February 10.

Minister Kellier credited the decline to “deliberate strategies” to increase food production, including the agro parks programme.

“We have been able to attain self-sufficiency in pork, poultry, table Irish potato and in most vegetables and ground provisions,” he informed.

He said that despite drought, there were increases in the production of crops such as coffee, and banana, and cassava.

Coffee production moved from 4,464 tonnes in 2014 to 5,661 tonnes for 2015, representing a 22 per cent increase, while banana production improved by three per cent to 55,000 tonnes.

There was also a 68.1 per cent increase in onion production. “Over the next four years, we intend to produce at least 40 to 50 per cent of the onions that we consume here in Jamaica,” the Minister said.

He noted that cassava production also increased with the planting of some 336 new acres.

Minister Kellier said strategies to reduce the food import bill will be enhanced during 2016/17.

Three additional agro parks are to be established, which will bring the total number of facilities to 12.

“The Ministry is in the process of sequestering some 20,000 acres of land so that the Agro Investment Corporation will have enough lands for investors to utilise and for local farmers to make use of the opportunities that will be there,” the Minister informed.

As is the case with the existing agro parks, Minister Kellier said the new facilities will be equipped with irrigation systems, and packing houses.

He said the operators will have access to good roads and agro-promotional opportunities, as well as marketing arrangements and extension services from the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).