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In a bid to herald and energise a new approach to agriculture, Prime Minister Bruce Golding, says a new investment driven approach must be taken to the industry and that it must be looked at as a business to create wealth, not as something to help out rural poor people.
In the creation of this new thinking, Mr. Golding says moves must be made to identify, facilitate, structure and streamline the investment opportunities that are available.
Mr. Golding was addressing Thursday (March 5) Agri-Investment Expo and Seminar put on by the Ministry of Agriculture at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge at the UWI,in Kingston under the theme ‘Investing in agriculture for attractive returns’.
The Prime Minister told a capacity room of farmers, investors, technicians, exhibitors and Government agency representatives, that the revolutionary approach to agriculture is going to involve partnership building between the critical stakeholders, Government and private sector interests. “I am hoping that this will be the start of something profitable, something strong and developmental and the start of a new revolution in agriculture”, Mr. Golding said.
Throughout his address Mr. Golding pointed to the need for agriculture to be looked at as a business like tourism and manufacturing, one that must be on the cutting edge of technology, providing a return that attracts investors. He noted that “until that mindset is created, the industry will continue to be a sector that simply saps up excess labour, maintains that labour at subsistence wages and never becomes the driving force it can be for economic growth and development”. Mr. Golding said there is also the need to look at building the agricultural infrastructure, to provide facilities for better marketing and storage for the ordinary farmer.
In his opening remarks, Minister of Agriculture, Dr Christopher Tufton said agriculture in the current environment, represents the best opportunity for the country to overcome the immediacy of the global economic crisis.
“It also provides an opportunity for us to be less vulnerable to external shocks. It is perhaps the most short term economic activity in response to an immediate challenge. In a sense it could be described as a social stabilising source as it provides Jamaicans, especially in the rural communities where 75% of rural community income is linked to agriculture, an option to those who are challenged to find solutions to the present crisis”, the Minister noted.
He said the Government takes the agriculture industry seriously and it was in this context that the Agri-investment expo and seminar was being held.

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