KINGSTON — Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Robert Montague, has called for comprehensive research on traditional herbs Jamaicans have been using for medicinal purposes for local use.
Speaking at a workshop on roots and tubers, fruits and spices, Thursday (December 1) at the Caymanas Golf and Country Club, St. Catherine, the Minister pointed out that herbs have been part of Jamaica’s culture for generations, and there is a need to look at the customs and traditions and ask researchers why it works.
"We need to ask our researchers these questions and have them researched," the Minister told an audience of farmers, private sector interests and Ministry technocrats.
Outlining the importance of the workshop, he stated that it will produce value, as it has brought together "everybody within that value chain” to answer some of the questions.
"What we ought to do, is do the research, then the production, the processing, the packaging and marketing to make it attractive for our people,” he urged.
In 2011, the Jamaica Exporters Association (JEA) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate the establishment of Agri-Business Centres. The centres will link farmers to markets, minimize post harvest losses and should increase the production of processed food products by 150% by the year 2020.
"This project that was undertaken by the private sector and with collaboration from other sectors, is showing the way that we can collaborate, that we can be profitable, and showing the way that we can emphasize research,” the Minister said.
He also challenged the financial sector, and other business interests, to make concerted efforts to ensure that agriculture is regarded as a profitable industry.
“So that a young person leaving university, will have no doubt in his or her mind where they are going to go, because they know that they can plant and the returns are going to be good,” he explained.
The JEA and ITC, project, with close collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, will benefit some 300 farmers from the St. Catherine-basd Gus United Production and Marketing Organization (PMO), and 2,000 farmers in the Christiana Potato Growers Cooperative Association.
By Garfield L. Angus, JIS Reporter