Shaw wants hotels to purchase more local produce
Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Audley Shaw said he will be engaging with large hotel chains in order to increase the supply of local farm produce to the tourism sector and cut down on food imports.
He said he will be working with Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett in achieving this objective.
"We have to sit down with them (the hotels). I am giving you this undertaking, we're going to work very hard on this one," Shaw noted.
He was addressing the 123rd annual general meeting of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) at the Denbigh Showground in May Pen, Clarendon, on Wednesday.
The minister lauded the Sandals hotel chain, led by Gordon 'Butch' Stewart, for setting up arrangements with farming groups. He wants more hotels, especially the Spanish chains, to follow suit.
He said that Sandals has purchased "hundreds and thousands of pounds of Irish potatoes from growers in North East Manchester and other sections of the island and is using them in its hotels".
Executive member of the Manchester Production Marketing Organisation and adviser to the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Laureceene Hanson, said Sandals did not hesitate to work with the farmers when the chain was approached by RADA.
"Whether you get seeds from them (Sandals) or you plant on your own, Sandals wasn't afraid to purchase from us as long as the potatoes were in good condition. We have not failed Sandals, and they have not failed us," she asserted.
Meanwhile, Shaw said a strategy must be put in place to increase the export of Jamaican products to other Caribbean countries duty-free.
He reiterated plans to convert the Agricultural Marketing Corporation (AMC) complex, located on Spanish Town Road, into a modern agroprocessing centre "so that people can put up a little factory".
Chairman of the Clarendon Lay Magistrates' Association Aldo Brown encouraged members of the JAS to become agents of change and the voice of influence in their communities.
"The agricultural sector is blessed with valuable members who understand the values of patience and the importance of the process and its benefits," he said.