JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The country’s farmers are being urged to take advantage of opportunities for local produce in the international marketplace.
  • Minister of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, says there has been an increase in the demand for crops such as banana, coffee and cocoa, which are fetching high prices in the world market.
  • The Minister was speaking at today’s (April 8) launch of Farmers’ Month and the 120th anniversary celebrations of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), held at the organisation’s downtown Kingston offices.

The country’s farmers are being urged to take advantage of opportunities for local produce in the international marketplace.

Minister of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, says there has been an increase in the demand for crops such as banana, coffee and cocoa, which are fetching high prices in the world market.

“Our bananas are in high demand in the United Kingdom and North America (and) our coffee and cocoa are fetching premium prices. What that means… is that now, more than ever, opportunities abound for the marketing of your produce on the international market. I encourage you to grasp these opportunities and embrace innovation so that the sector can become more viable and internationally competitive,” he urged.

The Minister was speaking at today’s (April 8) launch of Farmers’ Month and the 120th anniversary celebrations of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), held at the organisation’s downtown Kingston offices.

He informed that the Ministry, through the creation of an export platform, and working in collaboration with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), has been going into overseas markets to identify concrete prospects, and training farmers/exporters to take advantage of these export opportunities.

“We are also providing training in Global GAP certification in keeping with the requirements of the export market. It is our intention that our agro parks will be certified,” he said. Global GAP is now a requirement for all Jamaican farmers wishing to export their fresh produce to Europe.

Mr. Kellier, in the meantime, commended the hard work and resilience of the country’s farmers.

He noted that despite severe drought last year, the country achieved 90 per cent self-sufficiency under the Import Substitution Programme, and is self-sustaining in the production of poultry and pork.

The Import Substitution Programme, which is part of the Government’s growth agenda, targets self-reliance in the production of select crops such as Irish potato and onion. “We look forward to celebrating full self-sufficiency soon,” the Minister expressed.

He also hailed the farmers, who have come on board the flagship agro parks programme, noting that through the eight operational parks “we were able to keep our production high last year, producing over 1.75 million kilos of a variety of cops.”

Turning to efforts to address farm theft, Minister Kellier said the recently launched Anti-Praedial Larceny Unit “has been having good success,” as the police intensifies efforts to clampdown on praedial thieves.

“In addition, we will also be significantly increasing fines for breaches under the Agricultural Produce Act and the Praedial Larceny Prevention Act,” he noted.

The JAS will be hosting a series of activities to mark Farmer’s Month and commemorate its 120th anniversary during the period April 2015 to May 2016.

JAS President, Senator Norman Grant, will be leading a delegation to Cuba at the end of April. During the visit, a Memorandum of Association will be established with the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) in Cuba, to facilitate the exchange of information and farming technology.

“Not only is the JAS seeking to (form) local and community connections, but we are also seeking to connect ourselves regionally…the JAS is deepening …its presence in the region as we seek to embody a framework that will drive development in a cohesive way” Mr. Grant said.

The celebrations also include the staging of Kingston and St. Andrew Agrofest on May 30; and the Denbigh Agricultural Show from July 31 to May 2.