JIS News

President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Senator Norman Grant has expressed the view that Jamaican farmers should be able to generate more produce on a larger scale when the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) comes on stream in 2005.
Speaking recently to JIS News, the JAS President said farmers in Jamaica stand to benefit from the introduction of the CSME as they would have wider access to marketing. An added benefit to farmers, he pointed out, was that the “unit cost of production will decrease.”
Senator Grant explained, “When the unit cost decreases, the price of the final product will also decrease to the consumer and it would put Jamaican farmers in a tremendous position not only to compete with CARICOM but to also compete with those products that are coming in within our boundaries from the Americas and first world countries.”
With a membership of 15 Caribbean countries, the CSME was conceived out of the recognition of the challenges posed by an increasingly globalised economy and the need to increase the competitiveness of the goods and services of the Caribbean within the region as well as in international markets.
The CSME is predicated on the removal of barriers to trade and the free movement of regional services, goods and capital, as well as people.
The Ministry of Agriculture has teamed up with the JAS to work on a number of projects, among them a new tractor tillage service at a subsidized cost to farmers. In addition the central marketing system will be strengthened.
Senator Grant told JIS News that, “our farmers will be accessing the tractor tillage service to drive the whole question of mechanized agriculture which should force the cost of production down.”
Turning to the central marketing system, he said, “We are now moving to set up this national centralized system where our farmers can focus on production and we will be looking at taking the produce from the farmers. We are certainly moving towards the repositioning of the agricultural sector in such a way that when the CSME comes into play, the Jamaican farmers will be in a more competitive and advantageous position.”
The JAS President gave the assurance that farmers had nothing to fear, as the Jamaican agricultural sector was busy making preparations for local farmers to adjust to a single market economy.
“We are here to create rays of hope and opportunities for our farmers to capitalize on. We have the capacity to capture a lot of the market share that exists elsewhere because of our flavours.we are unbeatable,” he noted.
With the removal of tariffs and quantitative restrictions in all member states of CARICOM, a unified barrier has been created. This barrier will spell a difference for the treatment that is doled out to intra-regional common market imports from those imports that are derived from countries outside the CARICOM region. An additional component of the CSME is the formation of the Caribbean Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) that was created in 2003 to ensure that regional standards of the production of goods throughout the region is maintained.
Senator Grant informed JIS News that presently, discussions were ongoing with the Bureau of Standards in relation to developing a quality seal of approval that would be placed on products that meet the CROSQ’s requirements.
“We will be recommending during the process that farms, farmers and crops be accredited with such a seal and standard once they meet that specification,” he said.
When the CSME is fully implemented next year, the Jamaican farmer will have access to a marketplace of some 14 million consumers from the 15 member countries. In addition to Jamaica, the other countries are Trinidad and Tobago; Barbados; Belize; Guyana; St. Kitts and Nevis; Dominica; Grenada; St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Montserrat; Antigua and Barbuda; St. Lucia; Haiti and Suriname.

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