Agriculture funds to be distributed transparently -Hutchinson
The allocation of funds to stakeholders in the agriculture sector needs to be grounded in transparency, according to J.C. Hutchinson, minister without portfolio in charge of agriculture.
He made the assertion during his sectoral presentation in the House of Representatives yesterday.
"Mr Speaker, agriculture will now have to be taken more seriously by all stakeholders. Our farmers will now have to take farming as a business," said Hutchinson. "Funds allocated to the sector have to be distributed in a non-partisan manner where there is accountability and transparency for all inputs," he added.
Hutchinson's statement came against the backdrop of State Minister Rudyard Spencer's utterances at a political meeting in March that Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) supporters were poised to gain better access to Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) resources because the chairman is a JLP member. Spencer then apologised for his comments.
Hutchinson noted that the registration process for farmers at RADA had now been simplified and it would result in more persons becoming eligible to get resources from their respective member of parliament.
Hutchinson said, "Now an individual has to go to the Rural Agricultural Development Authority office, apply to be registered as a farmer, and if he is already cultivating, the extension offer will go and verify the land and have him registered immediately."
He also announced that the Agricultural Push Start Programme, which was designed to help women and youth make a way for themselves in the sector, had already begun.
"Under the Agricultural Push Start Programme, all the inputs are provided to the farmer up front. The farmer's input is his or her sweat equity in the form of land, preparation and other field duties, including planting, spraying and reaping," said Hutchinson.