JIS News

Agriculture Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, has said that the Government stands committed to revolutionizing the agricultural sector.
“We understand that we cannot pursue this particular strategy in a business as usual approach. We understand that we are going to have to shed what can be called the commodity mentality, which seeks to preserve traditional products in its traditional form,” the Minister stated.
“We understand that we are going to have to be consistent in terms of output because the linkage that we hope to establish and to maintain is going to be heavily dependent on a level of predictability,” Dr. Tufton said as he addressed the official opening for the 7th Caribbean Week of Agriculture Forum, which is now underway at the Gran Bahia Principe Hotel in Runaway Bay, St. Ann.
The event, which started on Monday (Oct. 8), will continue through to Saturday (Oct. 13) and is being held under the theme: ‘Agriculture – Harvesting wealth through tourism’.
Pointing to the potential of agro-tourism, Dr. Tufton said that it would take a clear vision and a shift in terms of policy in order to make things happen, noting that the Government of Jamaica was committed to mainstreaming the greenhouse technique and the hydroponics production in the sector in an attempt to boost productivity levels.
“We will examine providing the appropriate incentives and infrastructure for greater value-added in the sector in the form of packaging, sorting, and cold storage, as well as other processing facilities”.
“We will look into bolstering the capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture to provide support to this new paradigm and we will examine providing the regulatory, legal and institutional framework for food health and safety, as well as the standards critical to our drive to penetrate new markets,” Dr. Tufton informed further.
Turning to the farmers, he stated that the government would seek to explore ways to make credit and financing more accessible to them so that they could have a basis to transform their approach towards greater levels of productivity, competitiveness and predictability.
“We have accepted that we can no longer depend on favours. We have accepted that we will have to chart our own course and we have also accepted that agriculture is too important for us to allow it to be marginalized,” Minister Tufton said.
He encouraged collaborative efforts among key players in tourism and agriculture in devising means to enhance both sectors.

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