The Government has established a Soil Health Committee at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, in an effort to increase Jamaica’s food security.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Floyd Green, gave this update during his contribution to the 2021/22 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives, on Wednesday (May 13).
This Committee comprises technical officers from the Agricultural Land Management Division (ALMD), Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and other stakeholders.
“The committee will pay keen attention to improving health, yield and profitability of soils, and promoting further education and adoption of healthy soil practices,” the Minister explained.
The committee will also develop a soil health tool that farmers and technical teams can use to provide a quick and basic evaluation of the health of the soil that is being utilized.
“Soil health is paramount. Soil is an essential resource and a vital part of our natural environment. In fact, 95 per cent of the food that we eat is produced in soil. Healthy soils are the basis of the food production system. However, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that approximately 33 per cent of global soils are degraded,” Mr. Green said.
The Minister emphasised that it is critical for Jamaica, which is striving towards food security, pay more attention to soil health.
Meanwhile, Mr. Green said the Public Infrastructure Management Committee has approved the Soil Fertility Mapping Project for Sustainable Agriculture in Jamaica, a joint project between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Moroccan National Institute for Agricultural Research.
The project will: design and develop an Information system and soil databases for decision-makers; develop fertiliser recommendations for crops and establish fertiliser programmes; put in place a geo-reference soil fertility information system for the country; and enhance the human and technical capacity of farmers, extension officers and researchers in soil information, and fertility monitoring and management.
The project will span four years and cost US$1.3 million.