Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw says the country is on the verge of seeing “some major” investments in the farming sector.
Delivering the keynote address at the 52nd Annual General Meeting of the National Consumers’ League of Jamaica (NCLJ) on October 2 at the Bureau of Standards Jamaica in Kingston, Shaw said the investments will be similar to the $11-billion Lakes Pen venture in St. Catherine that businessman, Gassan Azan, announced recently.
“It is an opportunity where small farmers will get technology to help them get greater output, for better living,” the minister said.
Shaw pointed out that the investments will enable infrastructural support for more processing of produce to cut imports.
Meanwhile, Minister Shaw called for a shift in the type of foods that are consumed, so that “our collective health” can be improved.
“We can start with the simple approach of eating more local produce. When we eat more of our local produce, it will, in turn, reduce our dependence on imports, while at the same time increasing our wealth as a country,” the minister said.
Shaw told the audience that work on the ‘homegrown’ school-feeding programme that his ministry is spearheading, in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, and the Ministry of Health and Wellness, is advancing, with a 47 percent increase to the budget for meals at schools.
He lauded the work of the NCLJ as contributing greatly towards the “empowerment of our citizens, to activism and the provision of information that allows our consumers to make educated choices”.