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Story Highlights

  • This development is in keeping with the Government’s continued thrust to achieve greater levels of food security and safety for the country.
  • Organic farming refers to a system of crop cultivation that uses biological methods of fertilization.
  • The Minister informed that an expert from India is expected to assist the sector to “up the ante as far as organic farming is concerned.”

The Government is currently drafting a policy on organic agriculture, as it seeks to advance the development of a modern, efficient and internationally competitive sector.

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, made the disclosure while addressing members of the Diplomatic Corps, at the Courtleigh Hotel, New Kingston, on February 5, as part of activities for Diplomatic Week 2014.

This development is in keeping with the Government’s continued thrust to achieve greater levels of food security and safety for the country.

Organic farming refers to a system of crop cultivation that uses biological methods of fertilization (such as green manure and compost) and pest control as substitutes for chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Mr. Clarke contended that there is a market for organic foods, noting that employing this healthier method to cultivate crops is significant, as “growing organic helps us to rejuvenate our soils because we have been using chemical fertilizers for a very long time and we would really want to (move away from) that.”

The Minister informed that an expert from India is expected to assist the sector to “up the ante as far as organic farming is concerned.” He added that the Ministry is also seeking to encourage farmers to use less chemical-based fertilizers.

In the meantime, Mr. Clarke said that despite the challenges the Agriculture and Fisheries sector has encountered throughout the years, it continues to play an important role and is a critical plank in the nation’s agenda for sustainable growth and development.

“Given the decline in several areas of the sector over the decades, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is on a continuous and committed drive to resuscitate, transform and expand the sector and make it more sustainable,” he said.

He stressed that the Ministry’s resolve is to position the sector in order to achieve higher levels of growth, which will contribute to increased Gross Domestic Product (GDP), employment and rural development.

This, the Minister said, will be achieved through several initiatives, including development and implementation of the National Food Safety Programme to ensure compliance with the Food Safety Management Act; and the creation and approval of the National Food and Nutrition Security Policy.

A key strategy being undertaken is the targeted cultivation of 8,000 acres of idle Government land under the flagship Agro Parks initiative.

Through a tri-partite partnership involving the Government, farmer/investors, and the private sector, a total of nine agro parks are being established across the island, which are projected to realize foreign exchange savings of  $4 billion, provide employment for about 5,000 persons, increase agricultural output and reduce the importation of targeted crops.

Diplomatic Week, coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, is being observed from February 2 to February 7, under the theme: ‘Partnership for Growth’.