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President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Senator Norman Grant, has called on stakeholders in the agricultural sector to implement and drive the ‘crop targeting’ process, where crops are identified for production in specific quantities, in order to reduce the country’s reliance and dependence on foreign foods.
“Jamaica’s domestic production statistics over the last 15 years is about 400,000 metric tonnes. We need to grow that incrementally by 15 per cent annually and come 2013, we would be getting in the region of 1,075,000 metric tons of foods, so that we can reduce our reliance and dependency on foreign food imports,” Senator Grant said.
He was giving the keynote address at the St. James Association of Branch Societies’ annual general meeting, held at the St. Johns Methodist Church Hall in Montego Bay, St. James, on June 23.
“That is why I renew that call, that once a crop can be produced and grown in Jamaica adequately to fill the demand and the market, then we are calling for the Ministries of Finance and Agriculture to defer from giving waivers for those crops that we can grow in Jamaica. Once we can grow them in Jamaica, let us get the importers to come to us, sit with the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and let us produce it, so our people can eat more of what they produce,” Senator Grant told the farmers.
Citing the many opportunities available in coffee, cocoa, honey, livestock and the fishery sector, Senator Grant suggested that closer look be taken at some of the country’s traditional crops for redevelopment and repositioning, so that the country’s economy can be transformed.
“I believe that it is time for us to look at our traditional crops, such as sugarcane, citrus, banana, coffee, pimento, among others, which, once repositioned, can be critical players in helping to transform Jamaica’s economy and save us from the shocks we are now going through. Agriculture is Jamaica’s hope and the way forward, and I pledge to work with the farmers and the farming sector to ensure that agriculture continues to be repositioned and redeveloped for the betterment of Jamaica’s economy,” Senator Grant said.
Reviewing a number of programmes and projects implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries within the farming sector, the President commended the Government and pledged his support in ensuring that the country’s agriculture is repositioned for the benefit of all.
“We embrace, 100 per cent, the number of programmes that have been engaged and implemented by the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and his Ministry, for example, the increase of our extension officers by RADA, the move as it relates to research [and] development and the implementation of appropriate technology. These are excellent moves that will help to build capacity within the sector. We fully embrace the green house technology as part of the matrix and framework that is going to help us to reposition Jamaica’s agriculture,” Senator Grant told the farmers.
The St. James Association of Branch Societies is an affiliate of the Jamaica Agricultural Society and is comprised of some 45 branches, with a membership of approximately 480.

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