Minister Reiterates Call for Idle Lands to be put into Productive Use

Photo: Dave Reid Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw (at podium), addresses the audience at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE) Alumni Association panel discussion on the status of Jamaica’s food security, held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on May 17. At right is Managing Director, Stanmark Food Processors, Canute Sadler.

Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw, is reiterating his call for Jamaicans to put idle lands into productive use.

Mr. Shaw was speaking at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE) Alumni Association panel discussion on the status of Jamaica’s food security, held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on May 17.

“We are confronted with the [fact] of having too many [parcels] of idle land all across Jamaica… whether it is owned by Government or even owned by the private sector. That is the central issue and challenge we face as a country. How can we transform our country and make part of this transformation, the productive deployment of our land,” he said.

“Government has to start by setting the example. Government must start with the redeployment of sugar-company lands and its deployment of lands held by the national land agency,” the Minister added.

Mr. Shaw noted that the Government is serious about charting a course to get lands into the hands of persons interested in agricultural production.

The Minister said he ordered an inventory of all available government lands not in production, starting with the parishes of Clarendon and St. Catherine.

“I got that report last week. In that report, it is proposed that half of it remains in sugar. Well, that is just a proposal right now, because I have to look at the viability of that proposal, even as I look at some proposals that are now on my desk for a potential revitalisation of the sugar industry,” Mr. Shaw informed.

“More importantly, whether we have some limited revitalisation of the sugar industry, and I say limited because you know what is happening in the world when it comes to sugar, sugar is a declining industry globally, [and] the time has long passed for us to make firm moves into rationalisation of lands and into diversifying the production base we have in the country,” he added.

In furtherance of CASE Alumni Association’s mandate for seeking to influence the Government’s policy on agriculture, the Association’s executive hosted a panel discussion to discuss issues they considered to be very critical to the improvement of the Jamaican agricultural sector.

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