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Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, has assured that the Government will be doing a lot more to enable farmers to produce more efficiently and to compete more effectively in the global market.
Addressing the official launch of the Jamaica Producers Tropical Foods – a division of Jamaica Producers Group, at the St. Mary Banana Estates in Annotto Bay, St. Mary on Wednesday November 26, Dr. Tufton said the government fully understands the challenges that confront the agricultural sector in the effort to increase and diversify production. He added that the time has come for a lot more to be done to ensure that farmers significantly increase production.
The Tropical Foods Division will be responsible for the production of St. Mary’s Cassava Chips, which will be available in original and barbecue flavours.
He said the measures government will be implementing to achieve that objective include a re-examination of the country’s approach to trade with a view to bringing about more beneficial terms to farmers; consolidating the facilities at the customs department to ensure that the productive capacity of the farming community is not undermined; strengthening the Rural Agricultural Development Authority to provide strong focus on technical support and marketing opportunities for farmers; and the provision of more financial support for the agricultural sector.
Observing that agricultural production in Jamaica has been in constant decline over the past 15 to 20 years, the Minister asserted that this reality is an indication that the country’s agriculture has been moving in the wrong direction, and that this needs to be changed urgently.
He assured that government is fully prepared to work with the sector to reverse this trend, adding that the country needs to develop the capacity to provide food security for the population from its own resources.
Declaring that Jamaica has the ability to achieve food security despite the challenges to the agricultural sector, Dr. Tufton said this can be done if the necessary investment in agriculture is made.
In congratulating the Jamaica Producers Group for the role it has played in increasing agricultural production, he described the launch of the Tropical Foods Division as a positive move by the Group, adding that it will serve as a catalyst for the further development of the sector.
Also addressing the function was Rolf Simmonds, Commercial Director of Jamaica Producers Tropical Foods, who gave the assurance that the Jamaica Producers Group is committed to investing heavily in agriculture.