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  • Agriculture, Labour and Social Security Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, has hailed the work being done by the Plant Quarantine and Produce Inspection branch of the Ministry, in helping to protect the country’s agricultural environment.
  • The Minister noted that over US$62 million worth of agricultural products were inspected and certified during 2014.
  • Mr. Kellier said that despite the achievement so far, the branch remains a work in progress as there is room for serious growth.

Agriculture, Labour and Social Security Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, has hailed the work being done by the Plant Quarantine and Produce Inspection branch of the Ministry, in helping to protect the country’s agricultural environment.

Addressing the closing ceremony for an Information Fair to mark the end of Plant Quarantine Week, at the Agricultural Export Complex at the Donald Sangster International Airport, in Montego Bay, on June 5, the Minister noted that over US$62 million worth of agricultural products were inspected and certified during 2014.

Mr. Kellier said that despite the achievement so far, the branch remains a work in progress as there is room for serious growth.

“While I commend the branch for the hard work they must have done to inspect that volume of produce, I believe that we need as a country to see more exponential growth in that figure,” the Minister said.

Looking at the potential for growth in the sector, Mr. Kellier said the time is right for Jamaica to move to capitalize on the opportunities that are available.

“Our markets in the Cayman Islands and other Caribbean countries, Canada and the United States as well as the United Kingdom and other European markets are currently underserved and not just with our traditional, but also with our non-traditional produce,” he noted.

The Minister said that despite the United States Department of Agriculture providing pre-clearance facilities for 52 agricultural items into that market, Jamaica is currently able to supply less than a quarter of the items on the list.

“We need to take the baton and run with it…there is much more to do. Where there is a gap, it means that there is room for growth and the time is ripe for investments in export agriculture. I am therefore appealing to our small, medium size and large farmers, our investors, our families and young people who are in search of income generating opportunities, to look to agriculture now,” he urged.

The Minister said the work of the Plant Quarantine and Produce Inspection branch transcends the agricultural sector, reaching into areas such as tourism and transport, as part of its role in promoting trade facilitation.

“I am therefore very pleased that the branch has opted to host this quarantine week of activities to place even greater focus on trade facilitation. I wish to commend them to get the word out that food security and food safety are really everybody’s business,” he added.

The Jamaica Plant Quarantine Inspection branch operates from two export locations in Kingston and Montego Bay.

At the ceremony, a number of Western Jamaica-based exporting companies were recognized for the support they have given to the Plant Quarantine and Produce Inspection branch at the Donald Sangster International Airport.