According to Minister Charles it is imperative that we focus on building a robust and sustainable agriculture sector through public private collaboration. He shared that in order to recover from global challenges including the fallout from the pandemic, international conflicts and climate change, and local challenges such our pace in keeping up with adapting technologies, we have to see Agribusiness as playing a role in many different ways including food production, food availability, food affordability and the overall competitiveness of the sector. “From a policy perspective we are focused on crop production, fisheries, increasing livestock soil management and youth involvement and have various programmes to support these efforts” commented Minister Charles, before sharing many of the opportunities the Ministry has, and will be rolling out in order to incentivize farmers. “We are compelled to look within, to bind together, and to find ways to really become more self-sufficient. We are looking to the young people, all of you that Seprod Foundation has invested in, to be our innovators and the critical thinkers for tomorrow” continued Minister Charles.
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The development of a sustainable and robust food security mechanism is a chief area of focus for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. The achievement of this is a collaborative approach, requiring the support of many other sectors and players but, indeed, agriculture and fisheries is at the nucleus of it. We are focused on improving our level of self-sufficiency ensuring the right systems are in place to support production and access to quality food and the quantity required even in the most challenging of times.
Key factors affecting Jamaica’s food security
The vulnerabilities of Jamaica’s agri-food systems have been more exposed due to the following:
COVID-19 pandemic- causing critical supply chain issues, rising input costs
International conflicts, e.g., current conflict between Russia and Ukraine resulting in challenges with access to needed inputs as well commodities
Climate change developments- increased temperature, increased drought, increase in pests and diseases.
Slow technology adaptation and innovation.
How is Agribusiness important for developing food security?
If we are to effectively propel the mandate of ensuring food security then
investment in the agribusiness arm of agriculture is important. The production, processing and distribution of agricultural products are important areas in the agriculture value chain which agri-business can help to direct and strengthen.
Agribusiness plays a role in boosting:
The overall competiveness of the sector
What are we doing from a policy perspective to drive food security?
We are focused on areas relating to crop production, fisheries, livestock, soil
management, youth involvement.
National Livestock Genetic Improvement and Breeding Technology Programme
What it is about- Launched in November 2021, it is aimed at expanding production in the livestock industry through the provision of high-quality stock and reducing Jamaica’s importation of beef and milk. The programme is a 3 year programme that will allow cattle farmers (Beef and Dairy) and small ruminant farmers to access over 2,000 straws of semen and over 350 embryos. This is intended to improve the productivity of our animals.
Boosting of local inputs for industries such as poultry
What it is about- Exploring the development of low-cost feed for our poultry farmers through our Research and Development Division. This is geared at identifying opportunities for producing formulae of feeds that will possibly be cheaper and utilize our local raw materials as alternatives, supplements or replacements.
Production Incentive Programme (PIP)
What it is about- This programme is being implemented by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority and is aimed at stimulating and expanding the production of selected priority crops. This is geared towards boosting local supply to reduce importation. Some of the crops targeted under the programme include yams, onion, cassava, Irish potato, dasheen, ginger, hot Peppers, and pineapple. Through the programme, farmers are provided with technical expertise in the form of training, field demonstrations, logistics support, monitoring and evaluation support as well as distribution of planting materials and agricultural chemicals.
Development of Agro-production Zones
What it is about- The Ministry through the Agro-Investment Corporation has
been pushing the establishment of agro-production zones, which are geared at providing prime agricultural land to farmers to assist with driving the production of specific crops. Farmers will also be given support through access to services such as business planning, market access, among others. An example of one of our most recent agro-production zone is the New Pen Agro-Production Zone in St Mary, a 344-hectare zone, which will drive the production of primary crops such as Irish and sweet potatoes, tomato, pepper, papaya and cabbage.
Tilapia Production (Aquaculture)- What it is about- The Ministry through the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) has been steadily focusing on boosting the production of tilapia. Tilapia is one of the fastest growing aqua-farmed fish species in the world. It is highly profitable and a nutritious form of protein. As part of the programme to expand the industry, we have been focused on:
Implementing a tilapia marketing and promotion campaign.
Renovating tilapia brood ponds to increase fingerling production
Developing a Genetic Improvement Programme for tilapia
Rural Youth Economic Empowerment Programme
What it is about- This is governed by the Ministry’s youth arm, the Jamaica 4-H Clubs and is focused on developing the capacity of youth within the sector. This includes providing them support in several areas which include training in
business development and management, mentorship in the form of six month
business coaching as well as a startup grant.
Soil Fertility Mapping Project
What it is about- Soil is an important medium for many agricultural outputs. This is a finite resource and so it is important that we are able to protect, preserve and improve upon the soils we have. The project is a technical capacity-building project to be implemented in collaboration with the Moroccan National Institute for Agricultural Research. It will include training in laboratory procedures, development of a web-based information system for soils and fertilizer recommendation based on soil characteristics. The key aim is to increase the productivity and quality of agricultural produce. The Essex Valley region in St. Elizabeth has been selected as a pilot area for the project.
Development of seed nurseries for local production at areas such as Bodles Research Station.
Strengthening of bilateral partnerships in the area of fertilizer, e.g., Kingdom of Morocco.
Boosting of backyard farming initiative in schools through provision of inputs such as seeds and farming tools.
Promoting the consumption more local produce and products – ground provisions, cassava and breadfruit flour.
Opportunities for Agribusiness
Development of value-added products from key agricultural produce.
Diversification of agricultural offerings through research and development,
this can be in the form of services or tangible agricultural commodities.
Investment in cold chain storage facilities