Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Christopher Tufton, has said that his Ministry will give agricultural shows the support they need to represent the efforts of farmers and project the sector’s importance to Jamaica.
Dr. Tufton said that the Ministry has plans to empower and enhance agricultural and livestock shows, across Jamaica, for the purpose.
“I am going to ensure that a lot more effort, a lot more energy and a lot more planning are put into these agricultural shows, to guarantee that they become the main event,” the Minister said.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Christopher Tufton, (centre) reads the label on a product as he toured the Rural Agricultural and Development Authority (RADA)’s display booth at the 55th Hague Agricultural and Livestock Show at Hague near Falmouth, Trelawny, on Ash Wednesday (February 17). At right is Donald Robinson Regional Director for RADA.
“We will be moving to ensure that the critical levels of focus, planning and required infrastructure are placed in these shows, to ensure that they reflect and represent the efforts of our hardworking farmers,” he promised.
Dr. Tufton was addressing the 55th Anniversary of the Hague Agricultural and Livestock Show, Hague, Trelawny, on Ash Wednesday (February 17). The two-day event (February 16 -17), was held under the theme, “Sustaining local agriculture through productivity, food security and improved marketing”.
The Minister observed that it was important for Government to take the required steps to make these shows bigger and better, as a mark of respect to farmers who toil and produce, despite challenges.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Christopher Tufton, (Centre) looks at locally grown irish potato as he toured the Rural Agricultural and Development Authority (RADA)’s display booth at the 55th Hague Agricultural and Livestock show at Hague near Falmouth in Trelawny on Ash Wednesday (February 17). At right is Donald Robinson, Regional Director for RADA and at left is Senator Dennis Meadows.
“Last year, the farmers of Jamaica delivered and delivered big,” Dr. Tufton noted, pointing out that domestic production for calendar 2009 saw some 13 per cent improvement over 2008.
“The farmers of Jamaica produced nearly 500,000 tons of agricultural produce. In fact, agricultural data, collected by agencies of government last year, showed that agriculture was the only sector that saw these levels of improvement and expansion in the economy during 2009,” he told hundreds of farmers participating in the show.
While commending farmers for their hard work and congratulating and saluting them for their achievements, Dr. Tufton lashed out at the abundance of non-agricultural items at the show grounds, ‘practically competing’ with the farmers and their main activity.
“I don’t like to come to these shows and see haberdashery on sale. I don’t like coming to these shows and see non-agricultural activities taking place. I am not saying that we are not to complement agriculture, because agriculture is linked to everything, but the main event must be agriculture and the main things on display must be farmers,” he said.
The Minister said that he did not wish for the shows to become ‘swop shops’, ‘bend down markets’, “or anything that is going to take away from the real efforts of our primary producers.”
Observing that agriculture last year engaged more working class Jamaicans than any other sector, Dr. Tufton said it remains the most critical economic activity in the country and could not be taken for granted.