Non-Traditional Agriculture Profitable and Competitive – Minister Clarke

Minister of Agriculture and Lands, Roger Clarke, has said that his ministry is confident in its promotion of non-traditional forms of agriculture, as a study has shown that this is high yielding, profitable and competitive.
Mr. Clarke, in his contribution to the 2007/08 Budget debate, informed the House of Representatives yesterday (April 18) that the non-traditional forms of agriculture lie at the heart of the agricultural development strategy that was formulated and promulgated some three years ago.
“Alongside our efforts to increase productivity in the traditional sectors, the strategy seeks to promote these new areas within the general framework of a modernised agricultural sector. The intention is to infuse the latest and most appropriate technology in the sector to rapidly increase yields and farmers income,” he said.
“In the last financial year we have accelerated our efforts at implementing this strategy. The highlight of these efforts was a series of island-wide road shows where we unfolded to the public the tremendous prospects that these enterprises offer in terms of investment. We have excited Jamaica and demonstrated that agro-business can be an enterprise of choice with attractive returns,” the Minister continued.
He informed that the road shows generated a number of concrete investments projects which has compelled the ministry to put in place an infrastructure to ensure the fruition of these investments opportunities.
In response to the road shows, Mr. Clarke said the Ministry was moving to provide additional support of $20 million. This will provide loans and training to 20 new entrants; expand the apprenticeship programme from 50 to 80 persons; provide loans to existing bee farmers to bring them up to an economic level; enhance existing nurseries; provide bees stock, and undertake ongoing island-wide training of bee farmers.
He added that the Agriculture Support Services Project, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority and the Research and Development division of the Ministry will be critical in providing the technical marketing and business facilitation services required to nurture and sustain these projects.

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