Local production retarded by Gov't import policies

Published: Friday | July 17, 2009


Agriculture Minister Dr Christopher Tufton says the Government will need to adjust policies that have been hampering the country's efforts to encourage local production.

Speaking to farmers during the annual general meeting of the All-Island Banana Growers' Association at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, yesterday, Tufton said government policy over the years has been making it too easy to import cheap inputs from developed countries that are already available in Jamaica.

Discouraging

"In the process, what it does is discourages our local players because those products have been given preferential treatment in their country of origin," said Tufton. He was responding to farmers who were complaining that some large private companies were importing bananas from Ecuador and other countries in spite of an abundance of bananas locally to fill the demand.

Tufton said that while the policies might not have been implemented to deliberately discriminate against local consumers, it has put farmers and other producers at a disadvantage.

"These are issues policy must address because its more in the interest of the country to support local producers than those in other countries," he said, noting that there was space within the World Trade Organisation trade rules to facilitate and encourage local production although free trade at its extreme benefits only developed countries.

Dumping imports

"What it is going to mean is that we cannot allow Jamaica to become a ground for dumping imports," he said.

"We cannot be planning for agriculture and not look at our trade policies. We must get rid of unfair trade practices."