Hutchinson renews call for removal of GCT on imported seeds
Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, J.C. Hutchinson, has renewed his call for the removal of GCT on imported seeds and refrigerated trucks.
Lamenting the high food import bill of approximately US$902 million in 2018, Hutchinson said the removal was necessary to facilitate increased production and modernisation of the agricultural sector.
He was speaking at the 124th Annual General Meeting of the Jamaica Agricultural Society on Wednesday at the Denbigh Showground in Clarendon.
Hutchinson highlighted several initiatives presented during his recent Sectoral Presentation including an amendment to the Agricultural Produce Act, where in addition to the fines imposed by the court, farmers will be reimbursed for their loss.
On the matter of the rehabilitation of farm roads, he said that for greater transparency and accountability there has been a change in the structure of the programme.
Requests for roads to be rehabilitated, Hutchinson said, will now have to be routed through the Rural Agricultural Development Authority with final approval being given by the RADA National Board.
Minister Hutchinson also informed the farmers that the Government has allocated $15 million through RADA to assist the farmers who are most affected by the current drought.
These funds, he said, will be disbursed by the end of July.
An additional $19.5 million will also be allocated to Members of Parliament.
In addressing the marketing challenge being experienced by farmers, Hutchinson said that plans were far advanced for the establishment of the first Agro-Economic Zone on 2,400 acres of land at Holland, St Elizabeth.
The zone will include a complex where farmers can sell their produce which will then be graded, packaged, and processed for sale.
The minister challenged the JAS to set up agro-economic zones on its properties at Denbigh, Montpelier in St James and Hague in Trelawny to facilitate farmers in those areas.