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Agricultural Industry Recovers Fully

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The agricultural industry is now fully recovered from recent natural disasters, with banana seeing a 64 per cent growth and several main crops up in production.

Making the disclosure, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Donovan Stanberry, said the current agricultural production level is above what existed before Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and that the rebound of banana production is a “remarkable recovery.”

“Production levels that were attained in the first quarter of 2014 have surpassed what was obtained before the hurricane in 2012. That means we have made a full recovery, and we are on the path of growth,” he said.

The Permanent Secretary was speaking at Wednesday’s (July 9) staging of the 119th Annual General Meeting of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), at the Denbigh Showground in May Pen, Clarendon.

Mr. Stanberry stated that vegetable production is up by 16 per cent; condiments, by 16 per cent; fruits, 25 per cent; cereals, 14.8 per cent; plantains, 198 per cent;  Irish potatoes, 35.5 per cent; yams, nine per cent, and sorrels 28 per cent.

The Permanent Secretary told the gathering that it was the first JAS meeting he was attending and did not hear farmers complaining of not having markets for their produce. He said the Government has managed the process by not issuing import licence without careful consideration of the negative impact on local production.

“We have begun to curtail our imports of food items. Base on figures from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, between January and March, food imports decreased from US$267 million to US$252 million. I salute not only the farmers who are producing more, so that we have local options, but also our heads of households who have gone into the supermarkets and made a conscious choice to buy local,” he said.

Encouraging the farmers to continue producing, Mr. Stanberry said his Ministry will help them to overcome different challenges facing the sector, including the drought, and bush fires.

“The only sustainable way to make the Jamaican dollar stronger, is to grow more, export more, and import less,” he argued.

By Garfield L. Angus

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