St Mary to get agro park
Agriculture Minister Derrick Kellier has said a ninth agro park will be established by the end of March.
He told parliamentarians at a recent meeting of the Standing Finance Committee of Parliament that the latest agro park would be set up in St Mary.
At present, agro parks are established in Amity Hall, St Catherine, Plantain Garden River in St Thomas, Ebony Park in Clarendon, Spring Plain in Clarendon, Yallahs in St Thomas, New Forest and Duff House in Manchester, Hill Run in St Catherine and Meylers Field in Westmoreland.
"We intend, during this coming financial year, to put in some additional ones particularly in western Jamaica. One in Sunderland, one at Enfield and in Seven Rivers."
The agriculture minister pledged that the agro parks would be fully served by irrigation systems, noting that the Government would be helping small farmers with irrigation systems to mitigate drought.
Quizzed about new research taking place in the agriculture sector, Kellier said additional studies were being done at the Montpelier Agricultural Research Station on cocoa and cassava.
"Without the research, we won't be on the competitive edge with other countries."
Member of Parliament for North Central St Andrew Karl Samuda raised concerns about the state of the dairy and beef industry in Jamaica. He charged that the dairy industry has been ruined, noting that at one point, the sector had more than 30,000 heads of cattle, compared with less than 5,000 at present.
He said very little was being done at the Bodles Research Station to develop new dairy or beef stock.
"Minard is a national disgrace. It was the pride of the Caribbean. It's gone to nothing; it needs $10 million to bring it back to some state of efficiency."
Responding, Kellier admitted that the dairy and beef industry had been in decline over time.
"We have started a process to try and rebuild and restore confidence in the sector among the dairy farmers."
He argued that the sector would take some time to rebuild, but it required full support from all players in the industry.