Tue | Jan 19, 2021

$10m for backyard garden planting kits - Agri minister says 2,500 households to benefit from initiative

Published:Friday | November 13, 2020 | 12:16 AM
Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Floyd Green (third right), listens to the address made by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry Dermon Spence (left), at the launch of Eat Jamaican Month at the Ministry’s Hope Gardens offices on Tuesday. Others (from sec
Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Floyd Green (third right), listens to the address made by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry Dermon Spence (left), at the launch of Eat Jamaican Month at the Ministry’s Hope Gardens offices on Tuesday. Others (from second right) are Jamaica Agricultural Society executive secretary, Patricia Jackson, and chief executive officer, Christopher Emanuel. Contributed

Some $10 million will be allocated to procure 2,500 planting kits under a ‘Say Yes to Fresh Backyard Garden’ Programme that is geared at bolstering the country’s food security and emphasising the importance of eating local produce, noted Floyd Green, minister of agriculture and fisheries.

Green said the aim of the initiative will be to equip 2,500 households across the island with their own backyard gardens.

“We need more Jamaicans to appreciate what goes into farming, both the joys and the challenges,” he said.

The minister was speaking at the launch of Eat Jamaican Month at the ministry’s offices at Hope Gardens on Tuesday.

The Say Yes to Fresh campaign encourages Jamaicans to buy more local produce from farmers.

Green also informed that the ministry will accelerate a programme encouraging people to craft innovative ways to prepare local produce.

Launched by the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) in 2003, Eat Jamaican Month is a national call to action to encourage Jamaicans to plant and consume more local foods. The campaign has also received support from the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).

In his remarks, First Vice-President of the JAS, Denton Alvaranga, urged farmers to increase production and to give focus to value-added products with attractive packaging.

“In this area, we will be able to rival the best of our global competitors,” he pointed out.

Alvaranga informed that advancing and expanding the processing sector will enable Jamaica to reduce its import focus.

IMPROVED CONSUMPTION OF LOCAL FOODS

Meanwhile, in his remarks, RADA Chief Executive Officer Peter Thompson provided an update of the ministry’s Buy-Back Programme, noting that a total of 1.2 million kilogrammes of food was moved from the farm to the consumer.

“From the onset of the pandemic, egg farmers were challenged to get their production into the market and we used the mobile markets to move it to the consumers at a subsidised rate,” he said.

Through the Buy-Back Programme, excess produce was purchased from farmers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thompson said RADA will continue to work with farmers to improve and increase production.

The RADA CEO acknowledged that there has been improved consumption of local foods, especially those perceived to be exotic, such as cantaloupe and squash.