President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Senator Norman Grant, has called on members of the Jamaican Diaspora to invest in the country’s agricultural sector.
Addressing a session of the 5th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference at the Montego Bay Convention Centre on June 18, Senator Grant told participants that investing in the sector will bring about great returns.
“The way towards getting great returns on your investment is to invest in Jamaica’s agriculture and there is a strategy for not only investing in agriculture, but in rural development,” Senator Grant said.
He also encouraged Diaspora members to seize the opportunity to participate in the redevelopment of their communities.
Senator Grant informed that the Ministry of Agriculture and the JAS will be embarking on a major outreach to engage members of the Diaspora and will also be establishing a framework with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade to see how the effort can be supported.
Focusing on the theme: ‘Agriculture and Agro Parks: Jamaica’s Food Security and Export Opportunities for Agriculture and Agribusiness’, the President pointed out that the establishment of Agro Parks is a major project in which Diaspora members could invest.
“The purpose of this project is to provide support in agricultural infrastructure in specific production zones. The increased production of specific crops within these zones will support the Government’s food import substitution programme and increase exports,” he said, adding that it would also result in improved national food security and bolster the linkages between the Agricultural and Tourism sectors.
The concept of the Agro Parks, as promoted by the Government, will seek to focus on a variety of agricultural related activities along the value chain.
“So, we are not only focusing on fresh produce, but on the entire value chain within a geographic location in which several primary producers, suppliers, processors or distributors co-operate to achieve sustainable market driven food production,” Senator Grant explained.
The project will involve major infrastructural, works such as irrigation, procurement of equipment and demonstration plots in nine strategic locations across the country. It will also facilitate and engage 8,000 acres of land to include agricultural production.
“The strategy is to ensure that at least 100 young farmers become involved in agriculture. So, if young persons in the Diaspora want to come home and invest in agriculture, this is an avenue,” Senator Grant said.
The Agro Parks, which are to be implemented at a cost of US$8 million over the next three years, are being funded in part by the European Union.
Contact: Aldeen Campbell