Letter of the Day | Beefing up the agriculture industry
THE EDITOR, Sir:
'The writing is on the sand'.
It's a pity, though, that it had to be ONLY on the proverbial sand, but the 'writer' is probably reluctant to carve it out on stone, knowing the obstinate nature of Jamaicans and of Jamaican divisive politics.
I speak, of course, of the corned beef opportunity that has emerged recently from the alleged 'unhealthy' beef and chicken situation coming out of Brazil. I am certain that there is enough idle land available in Jamaica that can be put into beef as well as chicken production to feed our people first of all and then to export to other countries, but we have at least two fundamental hurdles:
1. To convince the Government that whichever party is in office, they can benefit politically.
2. To put effective legislation in place that will, once and for all, handle our burgeoning praedial larceny problem.
We have been told time and again that praedial larceny is a billion-dollar scourge on our economy. Can you imagine where our society would have been economically had our farmers benefited from their honest efforts every year?
Traditional farmers would be encouraged to enlarge their production and others, including the youth, would, I believe, be encouraged to get into the business.
The Government needs to be proactive so that even the praedial thieves can realise that they, too, can benefit in a larger way than they now 'reap' if they did legitimate farming activities. They gain more and the farmer gains more. Our mantra can then be adjusted to read, 'EAT WHAT WE GROW, GROW WHAT WE EAT, EXPORT THE EXCESS'. But, sadly, the Government has to be convinced that this multibillion-dollar activity that farming can be needs more attention.
It need not only effective strategies to deal with praedial larceny, but also capital injection at affordable rates, unbiased assistance from RADA and tax-free access to material and equipment for at least the gestation period of about five or 10 years. Then, too, JAS and 4-H activities need to be intensified in all communities and schools, respectively. Can we do it? I'd say it's time for Jamaica to grow up. Yes, we can.