Jamaica and Region Urged to Pursue Opportunities in Non-Traditional Sector


Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, has said that there are great prospects in the agricultural industry for the marketing of non-traditional commodities.
Noting crops such as sweet potatoes, fruits, vegetables, cassava, and yams, he urged Jamaica and the Caribbean region to move swiftly towards the development of this sub-sector.
In a speech which was delivered by Senior Advisor in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Omer Thomas, at the opening of the Caribbean leg of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Workshop at the Rose Hall Beach and Country Club in Montego Bay yesterday (April 1), Dr. Tufton noted that Jamaica along with other CARICOM States, welcomed the opportunity to focus on the future development of the non-traditional sub-sector, through the workshop.
“I wish to recognize the timeliness of this workshop as we need to start immediately to examine and exploit the market opportunities provided by the EPA (Economic Partnership Agreement) and to make preparations to market and produce our non-traditional products. We are all aware of the difficulties in the European markets for sugar and bananas, our main traditional exports, and the need to transform the agricultural sector in such a way that there is less dependence on these commodities, while we improve significantly the non-traditional sub-sector, not only the primary products but moving more deliberately into agro-processing and agri-business,” Dr. Tufton outlined.
He told the more than 80 regional delegates in attendance at the three-day conference that the development of stakeholder commodity chain organizations for the non-traditional sector had presented quite a challenge for Jamaica, but expressed the hope that programmes such as the workshop would further assist in the development of this sub-sector, which he said must form the bedrock for agricultural development, nationally and regionally.
“Jamaica welcomes this demonstration of support for the non-traditional sector at this time when investment in agriculture generally, from both public and private sources, has dwindled over the years. We view this as a positive initiative in the context of the development component of the EPA. We anticipate working together in future with the European Union in developing strategies and programmes for the agricultural sector and in receiving financial and technical support from the Europeans as is outlined in the Cotonou Agreement,” Dr. Tufton observed.
The all ACP Agricultural Commodities Programme, which was launched in September 2007, is a comprehensive programme to link production and sale of commodities, while reducing poverty in member states. The objectives of this US$60 million initiative, funded by the European Union (EU), are to, among other things, improve incomes and livelihoods, and add value to the agricultural sector.

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