Government to Reduce Food Import Bill19 April 2013
JAMAICA - The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries will be pursuing initiatives aimed at enhancing Jamaica’s food security and reducing the country's annual food import bill of US$1 billion.
Portfolio Minister Roger Clarke identified some of the imported items, that "take a big chunk out of our import bill”, as wheat flour, corn, animal feed, rice and some fish products.
He said that the establishment of the eight Agro Parks will make a significant contribution to agricultural development, while moving towards food security.
“In these Agro Parks, the government will be working towards putting in basic infrastructure, such as irrigation, drainage, storage, and packing house facilities. We will be concentrating extension officers in those specific areas to deal with production, so that the farmers can have a continuous linkage with their extension officers,” Mr Clarke stated.
Over the next three years, some US$8 million will be invested to develop the parks in six parishes, including St. Thomas, St. Catherine, Clarendon, Manchester, St. Elizabeth and Trelawny.
Focus will be placed on the production of onions, Irish potato, yam, honey, small ruminants, hot pepper, ginger, turmeric, pineapple, and on aquaculture.
In addition, Mr Clarke noted that the Ministry will seek to put in place a proper marketing strategy for the agricultural sector.
“We are even looking at an exchange, somewhat like the stock exchange, to deal with how we market our farm produce,” he said.
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