Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Floyd Green, says he has tasked two agencies in the Ministry to spearhead a programme to ensure the use of agricultural lands for farming.
According to the Minister, the “highest threat” to farm lands is lack of use, adding that good lands are available for food cultivation, but persons holding them have not been using them for that purpose.
“We have to put our agricultural lands to use,” the Minister emphasised at a recent even held at the Denbigh Agricultural Showground in Clarendon.
He said the Sugar Company of Jamaica Holdings (SCJH), has been asked to “accelerate” the use of the many parcels of land they have.
“Put them into production, because if years pass and nothing happens, somebody else is going to come looking, and seize the idle lands,” the Minister said.
He pointed out that the Agro-Investment Corporation (AIC) has been advised to go on a drive across the country, and engage private owners of farm lands and encourage them to lease the lands to farmers, as “the way to protect our agricultural lands is to put them into farming”.
“What I want over the next two years is to embark on a robust campaign to drive up our production,” the Minister told his audience, underscoring that the support from the service agencies will also be improved, so that the country can be on a path of steady production of crops.
Mr. Green said the priority focus of his Ministry is on research and development and ensuring that farmers have the best available crops to withstand the effects of climate change.
“We are building out those systems with partnerships,” he said, adding that the Bodles Research Centre, and other such facilities at training institutions, are targeted for upgrading.