JIS News

Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, has said that the Government is committed to expanding agricultural production, and that technical support would be provided for farmers in the new thrust.
Speaking at a recent forum on Agriculture, put on by the St. Elizabeth Homecoming Foundation, at the Sharon Baptist Church, in Santa Cruz, St. Elizabeth, Dr. Tufton emphasised that in the new initiative, strategies would be pursued to make agriculture viable.
“We have a challenge in agriculture, and we need to accept and deal with it. It doesn’t have the attraction for young people that we would like to see, and we need to put agriculture where, with Government support, to a young person, it is worth pursuing as a career, as they would with being a doctor or lawyer,” the Minister said.
“The critical role of the farmer to Jamaica is fundamental, because they are the source of our sustenance as a people. It is the farmers why rural life exists, and they are the provider of our food security. We as a Government, have a commitment to breathe new life into agriculture, as a strategic and important form of economic activity for the survival of this country,” he said.
Dr. Tufton said it must be recognised that agriculture is critical to the survival of the nation. “The last year has brought that home stronger than ever. We have seen prices increased astronomically in all the areas of food imports, and as a people, we have felt the consequences of that. We need to turn the tide on food imports. We are working with Customs to ensure that every container that enters the island is searched. We are bringing in planting materials to ensure that our farmers produce, while ensuring that the import market is controlled,” he said.
The Minister added that a plan is being worked on to provide institutional support for the farming community.
“One of the major challenges that the farmers face is the issue of financing. Farming cannot advance unless money is pumped into it. I have put a team together to work out an initiative where financing is concerned. If farmers are prepared to follow best practices, we must take a chance with them, because they are critical in advancing the country,” Dr. Tufton said.
He said a report from the team on ways to finance agriculture, is expected before Cabinet for deliberations, early next year.