Mon | Oct 15, 2018

Agriculture in need of transformation

Published:Tuesday | January 30, 2018 | 12:01 AM


Laughable at best. That's my reaction to the pronouncement of Karl Samuda's promise that agriculture will contribute two to three per cent of economic growth. He made this pronouncement the heels of the prime minister expressing disappointment that the 'five-in-four' goal would not be met.

For a minute, I had forgotten that Karl Samuda was the minister of agriculture and fisheries. Except for the scandal involving the grass for cattle, I have not seen an impact. How then can he make such a pronouncement?

Agriculture, agreeably, is one of the industries that can boost the economy. Agriculture saw decline in growth for each of the four quarters of 2017. The achievements of the past have long been eroded. But this should not be surprising. In this modern era, the subsistence methods practised are akin to walking up an elevator that is going down.

Where are the advances coming out of the universities, CASE and the Scientific Research Council? Where are the investments in modern and mechanised techniques, the greenhouses, the hydroponic farms, the cultivated conch, lobster, etc. What are the steps to (1) combat the effects and challenges posed by climate change and (2) to further prevent climate change? Where is the education from RADA? Jamaica should be at the forefront of marijuana production and research, but we are just playing catch-up.

It is accepted that we do not have the capacity to compete with First-World countries with large land masses and capital at their disposal, but enough can be done to feed the country. Self-sustainability should be an objective.

I grew up learning that in giving a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teaching a man to fish, you feed him for life. Like everything else in life, that has changed - maybe from practices such as overfishing. We now need to give a man who has been taught to fish the resources to make a business from it, being able to employ others, while protecting the environment.