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Mango export shows untapped agricultural potential, says Williams

Published:Tuesday | June 18, 2019 | 12:00 AMAdrian Frater/News Editor
Montego Bay Deputy Mayor Leeroy Williams places a box of mangoes on the counter at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St James, last week as Jamaica resumed exporting the locally grown fruit to US markets.

Western Bureau:

Describing the sector as chock-full of untapped potential, Montego Bay Deputy Mayor Leeroy Williams is imploring the nation’s youth to give serious thoughts to a career path in agriculture.

Williams was speaking at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay last Thursday at a ceremony to mark the resumption of the shipment of Jamaican mangoes to the United States

“There is a need for new fresh blood in the agricultural sector,” said Williams. “Most of our long-standing farmers are now senior citizens, and we must start succession planning. I am, therefore, calling on young Jamaicans – males and females – to join the happy band becoming farmers.”

He urged youngsters to disregard stigma labelling farming as an unattractive, unprofitable career and said last week’s resumption of mango exports to the US highlights one of several areas of untapped potential in agriculture, which ambitious young people could exploit.

“Farming is a very sophisticated sector and will continue to be proof that by the sweat of our brow, we shall eat,” said Williams.

The deputy mayor added that venturing into farming would go beyond personal gain to boosting Jamaica’s food security.

“Let us consider the challenges concerning the nation’s food security if there are not enough farmers in Jamaica,” said Williams. “This sector creates sustainable jobs and is also a sure way to address any challenge which our country may face in meeting and effectively addressing our food-security needs. Let me inform you that this is a great sector in which our young people can find sustainable employment.”

Williams saluted the agriculture ministry and local mango farmers pressing to ensure more local produce reaches overseas markets.

“I want to implore our mango farmers to redouble their efforts in growing suitable produce, which will ensure that Jamaica meets its export quotas,” said Williams.

It is estimated that during June and July 2019, some 800 boxes of irradiated Jamaican mangoes will be exported to the US.