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JIS News

With improved agricultural production and marketing now getting much focus from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the need for proper and efficient export facilities is essential.
Against this background, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, toured the Plant Quarantine and Export Centre, at the Sangster International Airport on June 26, and met with a group of exporters at the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) office, at Catherine Hall, Montego Bay, St. James.
Dr. Tufton told JIS News that the tour was intended to make him familiar with the procedures at the export facility, adding that the Ministry is working to enhance the efficiency of the export process. He said that improvements are now being carried out at the export centre at the airport, which will result in a more efficient facility, and more storage space.
“For us it is important, because as we grow more food, it is going to be important for us to ensure that we have markets for our foods, and those markets are not confined to Jamaica. It is very important that we get markets that are external; in fact, we have as many Jamaicans living overseas as here, and of course there are non-Jamaicans who want our produce,” he said.
He emphasised that the Ministry is taking a very keen interest in ensuring that the export centre is efficient, to properly service both its internal and external clients.
At the meeting with the exporters, the Minister took note of the problems being encountered by members. These include: difficulties being faced by exporters to Europe; the necessity for a one stop shop for information and certification in Montego Bay; infiltration and contamination of legitimate exports with contraband; inconsistent production by farmers; the fumigation of some agricultural products, causing them to lose quality and taste; and the early closing time on Fridays by Customs Officers working at the export facility.
In his address to the exporters, he emphasised that agro-processing is fundamental to the sustainability of the agricultural sector. He said that once the levels of production have increased to where there is excess supply, then a way must be found to store, process and package the surplus.
He cited the Jamaican Diaspora abroad, as a ready market for the export of Jamaican products.