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Agriculture Minister, Roger Clarke, has said that the Ministry would be undertaking several initiatives under its three-year Agricultural Development Strategy, which was geared towards the repositioning of the country’s farming sector.
Minister Clarke, who was making his contribution to the 2005/06 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives yesterday (June 7) said the attempt was to drive efficiency and competitiveness in the sector to meet local needs and the demands of global trading partners.
A key part of the strategy, is the introduction of a $272 million marketing programme, with private sector input, geared towards producing to meet market demand, promoting buyer-seller partnerships, and upgrading marketing facilities island wide.
To support the thrust, the Ministry will move to enhance the capacity of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), to provide extension services, and to improve the efficiency, productivity and competitiveness of farmers.
Other aspects of the project include on-farm water management, increased farmer training, land husbandry, marketing extension, crop care and the completion of the Agri-Business Information System (ABIS) project, at an estimated cost of $202.7 million.
As part of the initiative, focus would be placed on research projects, the Minister said, based on their potential to contribute to competitive production. He informed that the projects to be targeted were estimated to cost some $65 million over the three years.
He also mentioned that the Agricultural Development Strategy would be supported by a targeted rural road rehabilitation and maintenance programme, and the extension and maintenance of irrigation works in keeping with the National Irrigation Development Plan.
The Ministries of Agriculture, Transport and Works and Water and Housing will fund projects identified under the infrastructural development programme at an estimated cost of $378 million. Meanwhile the irrigation component will cost approximately $426 million.