Jamaica to increase food production to the tune of $100m

Minister of Agriculture Audley Shaw (centre), president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society  (JAS), Lenworth Fulton (left); and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dermon Spence.

Minister of Agriculture Audley Shaw says the ministry is spending some $100 million on a programme aimed at mitigating the impact of drought on farmers and to gain at least a five per cent growth in food production.

He said the programme will be carried out over a 12-month period, targeting the planting of vegetables, fruits, condiments, roots and tubers as well as the rearing of small ruminants.

“The programme will be implemented in critical parishes islandwide, targeting in excess of 13,000 farmers as the ministry looks to stimulate growth. We have every intention of ramping up production in all areas of agriculture,” Shaw noted.

The Minister was addressing the virtual launch of Farmer’s Month where he outlined agricultural initiatives in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

He noted that the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) has commenced islandwide distribution of agricultural inputs under the $240-million stimulus programme, aimed at purchasing excess produce from farmers.

He said that focus must now be placed on ramping up production and productivity, providing irrigation and other critical infrastructure, incorporating climate-smart approaches, and instituting comprehensive marketing and distribution programmes as well as “an invigorated agro-processing programme”. Shaw lauded farmers who donated $7.5 million worth of crops to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security’s relief efforts.