Gov’t Allocates $100 Million to Agricultural Sector


Government will be allocating $100 million to the agricultural sector over the next three months to boost production in ground provisions and livestock. Agriculture Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, told journalists at the (Jan. 8) post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House that $70 million of the amount will be used to subsidize the cost of fertilizer, while the remaining $30 million will go towards boosting livestock production.
The fertilizer subsidy is a combination of $50 million from a $500 million Government provision to cushion the effect of price increases on consumers plus $20 million from the Ministry’s resources.
Dr. Tufton noted that the subsidy on fertilizer has become necessary based on the movement in the price of the product in recent months.
“There have been approximately five increases in the price of fertilizer, ranging from 45 per cent to 70 per cent over the last 12 months. I hasten to add that the primary cause has been increases on the world market (in the price of) the raw material (to manufacture fertilizer) which are imported,” Dr. Tufton explained.
The Minister said he and representatives of the Ministry have taken several steps to effectively address the matter, including “having discussions with the sole manufacturer of fertilizer in Jamaica, Newport-Fersan,” which gave an undertaking to attempt to keep the price at the minimum level.
“We believe that as part of the short-term measure, in an attempt to boost production, we should attempt to give some support, certainly over the next couple of months, certainly until the end of the financial year, while we work on a long term-strategy,” Dr. Tufton stated.
“We anticipate that there will be at least a 10 percent reduction in the price of fertilizer over this period. Again, based on the particular mix of the different types of fertilizers on the market, we anticipate an average selling price of somewhere in the region of $2000. It could be a little less, it could be a little more, depending on the particular formula,” the Minister pointed out.
He advised that fertilizer currently retails for between $2,200 and $2,600 per bag, but anticipates a 10 percent reduction after the subsidy is applied, adding “we are going to be monitoring that very closely with the assistance of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).”
In terms of the $30 million allocation for the livestock industry, Dr. Tufton said this will be used as an incentive to encourage farmers across the country to boost the level and vary the categories of livestock production.
“That will be for the small backyard operator who might want to set up a chicken farm. Currently, 30 percent of chicken meat is supplied by local farmers. It ($30M) might also include pig farmers..again, small scale. It could (also) go towards feed stock which is a major concern and which has implications on final prices,” the Minister outlined.

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