The Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) has moved to facilitate greater dialogue among the sector’s stakeholders, by establishing its Chamber.
This is expected to facilitate the hosting of regular fora among sector interests, thereby accommodating an exchange of ideas and views on the industry’s development.
The Chamber is a forum which will seek to highlight challenges in the sector and provide workable solutions for its progression; develop and publicise opportunities within the sector; enhance productivity and value within the sector through integrated synergies; provide the forum whereby critical issues can be addressed with a commonality of purpose; and advise the Government to create a favourable and acceptable business environment for the sector.
Launching the Chamber at the Knutsford Court Hotel, in Kingston, on February 1, Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Ian Hayles, said the initiative is a critical component, which will foster greater dialogue among stakeholders for the growth of the sector.
Mr. Hayles reiterated that the JAS’ role is crucial in identifying, protecting and promoting the needs of the farmers. He used the opportunity to encourage everyone to buy local produce to ensure that the farmers’ livelihood can be sustained.
“This is our country and the level of participation from everyone is vital and important. Whatever we do, the farmers have to be at the centre of divestment, they have to be at the centre of any policy framework or any strategy going forward,” he said.
For his part, President of the JAS, Glendon Harris, said the Chamber would seek to expand commodity association groupings, thus representing the wider interest of agriculture-related stakeholders to include: agro-processors, educational institutions, suppliers, marketers, exporters, among others.
“It is indeed our vision for the Chamber’s representatives to meet on a regular basis to exchange ideas and views on a timely basis related to agricultural matters, in order to arrive at consensus on initiatives,” he said, adding that strategic synergies lead to positive impact within the sector.
Issues to be addressed within the Chamber include: present tax reform proposal; associated cost of input; tariff barriers; bilateral trade agreement; incentives within the sector; infrastructural development, to include farm roads; traceability and food safety mechanisms.
Formed in 1895, the JAS seeks to ensure the protection and promotion of farmers' interest, through a vigorous, independent and financially viable organisation providing services to farmers and assisting them to gain access to resources provided by government and other agencies; and to enhance global policy initiatives in order to achieve sound and economic development.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter