«Mr Speaker, it is indeed my pleasure and a quite distinguished privilege to rise in this Honourable House to make this presentation. At the outset, I ...»
Mr Speaker, there is no good reason why we should not be able to have more of our schools participate in producing some of the produce for the different school feeding programs. We need to get more green houses in schools and greater participation in having community members supplying farm produce, the former Minister of Education was passionate about this and I agree with him fully, the value of education cannot be overstated and proper nutrition is a most critical component in the process.
Mr Speaker, of the approximately 1.1 million hectares of land in this country, only 271,600 or 25% is classified as arable. We have lost significant amount of this land to housing and other commercial activities, Mr Speaker, we must stop giving up good agricultural land to housing, especially given the
on the flat we would be able to have large green houses growing the crops that we have a competitive advantage in e.g. ginger, just imagine several 500m or more green houses along these plains producing our turmeric and ginger which has an international market waiting. We must get our farmers to realize that technology is their friend and they can be better off by working smarter and not necessarily harder.
MR SPEAKER, in adapting to newer technology we can G.R.O.W GENERATE REVENUE FROM OUR WORK.
Mr Speaker, we must secure farming produce for our households. The mandate is to promote agriculture to improve the family’s quality of life, reduce poverty and sustain its reduction, encourage self-reliance within the family and promote family health and wealth. Menu planning is about budgeting, saving time and optimizing nutrition. Where shopping at home first (checking the cupboards and refrigerator) coupled with the crops reaped from the micro farms will be encouraged.
Further, this will translate into Jamaicans being cultured in a realistic way to live the 'Grow What We Eat, Eat What We Grow' campaign of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS).
The organic waste generated by the kitchen and other places in and around the home can be composted. The compost can be used as a soil amendment to improve fertility, texture and water holding capacity of the farms and/or container gardens in more developed areas. Container Gardening is the use of recycled inexpensive containers filled with suitable soil mix to cultivate crops or flowers in a controlled environment, this is not new technology. The legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) is one of the finest such examples from
to grow fruits, vegetables and herbs in small spaces. By simply growing two cycles of tomato, cucumber, sweet pepper and Pak Choi, the average household would save approximately $12,000 annually.
Improving the life skill set of Jamaicans through agriculture will stimulate and sustain an economic transition from over-consumption of foreign goods to local production and consumption.
We must also aim to stimulate and sustain a novel personal habit in micro-agricultural production with the benefit of greater self-reliance and amelioration from economic strain.
MR SPEAKER, In Back Yard Farming we can G.R.O.W, GENERATE REVENUE FROM OUR WORK.
Mr Speaker the sugar industry, which has been around for over 300 years, is today facing its greatest challenge. You will recall that between 2009 and 2010 the Government of Jamaica divested its holdings in the sugar industry, namely the Monymusk, Frome, Bernard Lodge, Trelawny and St.
Thomas Estates, which constitutes 70% of the industry. The divestment had some questionable conditions but not withstanding the period thereafter saw farmers and factory owners getting some of the greatest returns; it was incumbent on the proprietors to rehabilitate the factories and diversify the products and seek new markets. Mr Speaker, 2014 we saw a 20.4% increase in sugar production supported by 27% expansion in sugar cane cultivation. This year has seen a 30% decrease in the prices and has thus set the industry into a declension with various operators indicating an inability to continue operation, without attempting to go back into direct management of the
challenges and we wish them well, this allocation was to assist with moving over 116,000 tonnes of cane, this allocation that was made by the former administration has since been used to restart operations at Long Pond.
Mr Speaker, problems are also looming for Pan Caribbean Sugar Company at Monymusk and recently we learnt of the decrease at Frome of over 27,507 tonnes its lowest output in more than 100 years, Sugar Company of Jamaica has signalled its intention to manage over 2,800 hectares of cane until the end of 2016 crop year, we have not heard of any allocation that will be made.
Mr speaker, with the myriad of problems the only shining light is the approach been pursued by Golden Grove Sugar Company, they have outsourced the field operations and secured a marketing agency agreement from the Sugar Industry Authority (SIA) to package and market their sugar in the retail trade in the Caribbean. This seems to be a model worthy of emulation. Mr Speaker, a significant development took place in the sugar industry with the installation of cogeneration capacity at Frome and at Monymusk and the Minister in his presentation reported that Frome has finalized Power Purchase Agreements with the Jamaica Public Service Company. Mr Speaker, cogeneration is significant because the future of sugar and indeed, its survival lie in significant reduction in the cost of production, facilitated by lower energy costs and the capacity to earn additional revenues from the sale of energy to the grid. Mr Speaker, the further growth of the industry will only be realized if we explore the full versatility of the sugar cane in terms of the multiple by-products.
Mr Speaker, we in the last administration pressed on with the social transformation of the sector, completing houses, schools, clinics, roads, community centers, water supply systems, sporting facilities, training of young persons.
Mr Speaker, we were able in the last administration, to reduce Jamaica’s food imports by more than US$300M, that only represents a start. Almost 50% of the current import bill is from importation of meat, dairy products, grains for feed, fish and fish products. Mr Speaker, for the four years of the previous administration we did not import any pork legs for making hams and last year recorded poultry production of 112 Million kgs. We must not allow wanton import to derail this process. A total re-organisation of the often-abused system of licences and tariffs, which in many instances stifles agricultural production, is necessary. Mr Speaker, we import on an annual basis 73.4 billion worth of meat. Mr Speaker, if you look at Burundi they have a revolving livestock scheme, poor farmers who do not have livestock but have enough land to keep an animal are eligible for the scheme. They sign a contract in which they agree to give back the first female calf born to the heifer they receive, after which they become the owner of the cow. Poorer farmers get smaller animals that are less expensive to care for. Farmers have to prepare to host the animal which could be heifer, goat, pigs, the manure is used to fertilize the soil since fertilizer is costly. Mr Speaker, this program has caused agriculture production to increase by 2 to 5 times. Technical assistance and training comes from the ministry of agriculture and supported by community groups, this program is critical where there is no access to credit.
Mr Speaker, this program can work here in Jamaica with support from RADA, I am going to lead this charge in St. Ann North Western with cows, goats and pigs. This in my mind will serve as a means of economic enablement to our people.
MR SPEAKER, IN LIVESTOCK we G.R.O.W GENERATE REVENUE FROM OUR WORK.
Mr Speaker, over 14 fish sanctuaries were established over last few years which saw significant improvements in the size and catch of fish, there was also a 40-pond acre expansion in the Hill Run Agro-Park. We are encouraging the government to protect the gains and continue to expand the opportunities as we move to sure up our food security.
MR SPEAKER, In fisheries we can G.R.O.W GENERATE REVENUE FROM OUR WORK.
Mr Speaker, I am convinced that we will not be able to address poverty unless we have a new deal for the farmers of this country and a new view of the discipline of agriculture. Poverty can be defeated if we grow by generating revenue from our work Mr Speaker, Agriculture represents the single most significant sectoral employer of labour, we as a country can grow by generating revenue from our work Mr Speaker, we must strive to involve more young persons in the discipline in order to break the strong holds of poverty, young people can G.R.O.W, Generate revenue from our work Mr Speaker, we must increase competitive access to productive land in a fair and transparent manner for Jamaican producers, if people can access their farms, they can G.R.O.W, Generate revenue from our work Mr Speaker, we must prioritize rural infrastructure so our people can have increase access and markets in an attempt to G.R.O.W, Generate revenue from our work Mr Speaker, we must expand our involvement in irrigation, adopt to newer technology, practice
G.R.O.W, Generate revenue from our work Mr Speaker, we can GROW, WE CAN generate revenues from our work, growth is not some farfetched concept, GROWTH IS WITHIN OUR REACH.
GOD BLESS YOU AND God bless Jamaica land we love.