Ministry of Agriculture to Spend $220 Million to Revitalise Industry

The Ministry of Agriculture will be spending $220 million as part of its effort to revitalise agricultural production, following the devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan last year September.
Giving the main address at the launch of the St. Mary Agri Expo 2005 at the Beaches Boscobel Resort and Golf Club in St. Mary on January 29, Minister of Agriculture, Roger Clarke said the amount was in addition to another $220 million earmarked by the government to provide assistance to the sector.
He said the areas targeted for expansion included goat rearing, apiculture, organic farming and fisheries, adding that government was making every effort to ensure that the policies and programmes were in place to put the country on the cutting edge of agricultural production.
Mr. Clarke emphasized that it was time Jamaicans regarded agriculture as big business and to choose crops carefully for production.
He commended the country’s farmers for the resilience they displayed after Hurricane Ivan, highlighting the importance of the agricultural sector to the Jamaican economy and social life, as was shown by the very high prices Jamaicans had to pay for some imported foods, because of the shortages in local production as a result of the hurricane.
The Minister said the experience was a reminder that the country needed to produce more of what the population ate, and that very often, locally produced agricultural goods were of a better quality than those produced in other countries.
Citing coffee and cocoa as examples of the superiority of Jamaica’s agricultural products worldwide, Mr. Clarke said the farming sector has to be supported and strengthened to ensure that it continued to contribute to the national development process. He commended the farmers of St. Mary and the organizers and sponsors of the show for planning the event, and exhorted young people to get involved in agriculture, as their input would play a major role in the building and development of rural communities.
The Minister said that the emphasis to be placed on the linkages between tourism and agriculture by the show organisers was very important, as both sectors could benefit significantly from each other.
He pointed out that the tourist industry bought a total of $2 billion worth of produce from the agricultural sector annually, and that the impending expansion in the industry would mean even further earnings for the farmers.
Mr. Clarke said the tourist industry needed to expose more tourists to the Jamaican cuisine, and one area that could be targeted was the cruise shipping industry.
The Minister noted that cruise shipping has grown a lot in recent years, and “we must find a way to make cruise ship tourists eat Jamaican foods”.

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