Letter of the Day | Sugar industry not dying – it’s changing
THE EDITOR, Sir:
The following are excerpts of Minister Karl Samuda's closing presentation to the sectoral debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
Mr Speaker, the challenges facing the sugar industry continue, but we are very clear in our minds - there is hope.
For the immediate future, we must:
• Maximise on the versatility of the sugar cane to produce multiple products
• Diversify our markets
• Invest more in field operations to attain higher levels of productivity and efficiency
Mr Speaker, let me be clear, the sugar industry in Jamaica is not dying. It is changing, and we have to be cognisant of those changes and respond appropriately. Within CARICOM there is a substantial market for over 300,000 tonnes of sugar for direct consumption, and for use as raw material in manufacturing.
We are ready to lead the charge into the CARICOM market with products such as our packaged sugar, refined sugar, plantation white, and liquid sugar.
Sugar has a future - but it cannot be business as usual!
Renewed Focus on Livestock
The Opposition Spokesman on Agriculture mentioned the need for us to reduce our food imports, including livestock.
Clearly, we cannot continue on a path where up to 50% of our food import bill is spent on imported products that we can grow and produce in Jamaica.
Hence, as I announced during my presentation, we will be,
• Developing our pastures
• Increasing the output of the livestock sector, and
• Restoring the dairy sector
Mr Speaker, so far as livestock is concerned, I believe it is safe to say that we are on the same page as the Opposition Spokesman on Agriculture.
Indeed, we are moving well beyond livestock. As the Minister Without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries indicated in his presentation to this House, we have a wide range of initiatives to develop the agricultural sector. These include:
• 50 acres of lands dedicated to organic farming
• 186 school gardens
• The Posterity Tree Programme - to provide excellent quality fruits for the market and assist in climate change.
• Processing facilities for training and expansion of the value chain for fruits and vegetables, with seven incubators.
• Development of the agro-parks for agricultural production and operation of the fish ponds in Hill Run.
Mr Speaker, without growth, there can be no prosperity. And so, stimulating growth has become job number one for this administration.
Crime, however, remains one of the biggest threats to growth and prosperity. It must be, and is being tackled at all levels. Government ... Opposition ... private sector - all of us as Jamaicans must work together to root out the threat of crime from our society. This must be a national effort.
Minister of Industry, Commerce,
Agriculture & Fisheries
4 St Lucia Avenue, Kingston 5, Jamaica