JIS News

The matter of putting unutilised and underutilised arable lands into agricultural production, dominated the Town Hall meeting, which Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, held with farmers, at Breezes Hotel, in Trelawny, on March 23.
Dr. Tufton also outlined the Arable Lands Irrigated and Growing for the Nation (ALIGN) project, through which the Ministry plans to revolutionise agricultural production, where irrigation infrastructure exists.
“The purpose of this particular meeting, is to highlight the challenges that we face as part of the agricultural thrust, which is to improve production, in keeping with our mandate to improve our food security, and to improve our own self-sufficiency as a provider of the foods that we require, the nutritional requirements that we have as a people, and to do so in a productive and efficient way,” he said.
Dr. Tufton said this would mean getting the best value out of the efforts that primary producers put into developing the lands available.
Citing the ALIGN programme, where the Government installs the irrigation infrastructure on arable lands, to assist in boosting agricultural production, the Minister lamented the fact that of some 72,000 acres of land available islandwide, on which the Government has put in irrigation infrastructure, approximately half of those lands are not currently being utilised for agricultural production.
He said that the ALIGN programme is designed to target the owners and occupiers of such prime agricultural lands, to have them fully utilized, and to encourage best agricultural practices towards improved crop production.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Irrigation Commission (NIC), Mr. Stanley Rampair, in his address, said that one of the threats that agricultural production faces, is the development of arable lands for housing. He expressed the view that there is an urgent need for development orders to be put in place, to address the issue.
He said that the implementation of the Land Policy being developed, should guide the future development of the country.

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