Prime Minister Calls for More Investment in Agro-Processing


Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding has called for more investment in the area of agro-processing, as adding value to local produce will result in greater economic rewards, not only for the sector, but for the country.
“We need to do more with the items before we ship them away. We have to add value to the things that we do. We have to stop sending away our stuff in the raw shape, and start doing things with our stuff, so that we can add value, so that we can create more jobs, so that we can bring better returns to our farmers, who work hard in the hot sun to produce them,” he said.
The Prime Minister was addressing scores of persons who turned out on Labour Day (May 25), to participate in a ginger tissue culture project in Top Alston, in North West Clarendon.
He informed that various countries across the world are getting hold of Jamaican products, applying different food processing techniques, creating sought-after items, and earning golden dollars on the world market. He insisted that in order to harness some of this wealth, Jamaica needs to take a more concerted approach to agro-processing, and pledged the Government’s full commitment to ensure that this becomes standard procedure.
“Food processing, adding value, is going to be where the Government is going to be taking agriculture; marrying agriculture with manufacturing, so that we can get more value out of our products, and what is being done here with ginger, is an important plank in that effort, to give us the quality, to give us the yield, to give us the efficiencies of scale, so that we can use that ginger and do wonderful things with it. Instead of shipping out the ginger in green and dry form, we are going to start working that ginger into all sorts of products, and then we take on the world and say we’re ready for you now,” Mr. Golding said.
He said it is important that farmers everywhere recognise the awesome responsibility they have in this regard, working in tandem with the authorities, to create a new attitude to an old and time-tested vocation, as successive generations of persons arrive at an acceptance of the possibilities for wealth creation, which exist within the sector. The introduction of technology and proper management techniques to the ginger farming process, he noted, would serve to enhance the quality of the product, and allow for greater benefits to be derived.
“I want the farmers in Clarendon to be part of that process, because I want to get to a stage where, when a youngster is asked, what do you want to be when you grow up, I want him to be able to say, proudly, I want to be a farmer, because farming must make sense and farming must make money, and farming must make people live a comfortable life. So, what we’ve done is to bring some technology and bring some management to work with the farmers in the area, to uplift the quality of ginger farming in Clarendon,” he said.
The ginger tissue culture project is geared at propagating a disease-free variety of ginger in a greenhouse environment, that will allow the farmers to maximise their earning capacity.
Several agencies, including the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), the Scientific Research Council (SRC), the University of the West Indies’ Bio-technology Unit and the Christiana Potato Growers Co-operative, will provide the requisite technical support.
The project is being jointly funded by the Constituency Development Fund and the European Union .

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