Wed | Feb 19, 2020

Green urges farmers to help cut J$40b import bill

Published:Friday | January 24, 2020 | 12:36 AMLeon Jackson/Gleaner Writer

Western Bureau:

The Tourism Linkages Council is being touted as an entity that if properly utilised by local farmers, could significantly reduce the nation’s annual J$40-billion import bill.

Floyd Green, the state minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, said this week that he hoped the upcoming 65th staging of the Hague Agricultural and Livestock Show would serve as a catalyst in the drive to rebuild the agriculture sector.

“Many years ago, the Hague Show was the leading one of its kind in the Caribbean, and you must aim to get back there,” said Green as he gave the keynote address at Wednesday’s launch of the show, which will take place on Ash Wednesday at the Hague Showground in Trelawny.

“Farmers, you are an important part of this Tourism Linkages Council. You must begin to produce in a variety of ways so that the country can cut down on the J$40-billion import bill, which includes importing fish and food to satisfy the needs of hotels.”

In encouraging the farmers to become more innovative and productive in what they produce, Green promised that the Government is willing and ready to assist them.

“There are a number of things that need fixing. There is a need for more extension officers. An Agriculture Assistant Programme has been launched, and this programme will train 90 persons to help supply technical information to farmers,” he said.

“The National Irrigation Council is charged with the responsibility of looking at the cost of irrigation to farmers as creative ways must be found to help farmers increase production at a lower cost.”

Green went on to promise that his ministry would be taking additional steps to blunt praedial larceny, which has been a long-standing concern of the farming community.