JOAM Endorses Move to Develop Organic Produce Industry


The Jamaica Organic Agriculture Movement (JOAM) has endorsed government’s move to develop the organic farming industry and has offered to make all of JOAM’s products and experiences available for the success of the initiative.
JOAM’s president, Dr. Dwight Robinson, made the offer at a meeting at the Agriculture Ministry recently, where Minister Roger Clarke announced that the government would be allocating $20 million towards the development of the organic produce industry over the next three years.
In accepting the offer, Minister Clarke acknowledged the pioneering work and success of JOAM.
The organization has, over the years, made great strides in attracting national attention to the importance and benefits of organic production, and had trained Jamaica’s first internationally certified organic inspectors; certified Jamaica’s first organic producers; written Jamaica’s Organic Standard – assuring compliance with international requirements; trained farmers in organic production methods and established several hectares of demonstration crops.
JOAM has also received international attention for its work. In fact, the Caribbean Region Organic Agriculture Movement (CROAM) regards Jamaica, through JOAM, as the regional leader and as such, has proposed to adopt the JOAM standard as the criterion for the region and to use the JOAM’s organizational structure and procedures as the model for new groups to follow.
The government’s proposal for the development of the industry, will see priority attention being given to the production of organic vegetables; root crops; tropical fruits; herbs/spices and medicinal plants; beverage crops such as cocoa, coffee and coconut; banana and plantain; grass-fed beef; mutton and goat as well as free-range chickens and eggs.
The intent is to tap into the international organic market, which is estimated to value some US$25 billion.
To support the development of the industry, the Minister has proposed the creation of an organic agriculture support unit, to provide technical support to organic farmers, including carrying out research and establishing demonstration plots. In addition, the Ministry will, with the help of stakeholders, develop a national policy on organic agriculture within the next 12 months and facilitate the drafting of legislation to protect the integrity of the organic agriculture industry.
Minister Clarke said that the government strongly supported any venture that would enhance agricultural production. “To improve food safety and to facilitate international trade, we are moving towards the adoption of good agricultural practices in all facets of the agricultural production chain,” he stated.

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