Markets identified for local produce – Shaw
Agriculture Minister Audley Shaw has said that the Government has identified four distinct markets for locally grown foods.
These markets, he noted, are the hotel industry; the CARICOM region, where fresh and processed foods can be exported duty-free; the diaspora; and the National SchoolFeeding Programme.
Shaw said that Jamaicans are being encouraged to use locally grown produce as this will assist in lowering the food import bill.
He said that there is a plan to increase local production and that "we will start with some 30,000 to 40,000 acres of land that will be leased".
"I am sending a message to all, including those who have land that is now idle - use it or lose it - because we have to ensure the country's food security," he said.
Shaw said that he is encouraging farmers in need of land to come with a plan and "that we will find creative ways to help you, starting with irrigation systems".
Shaw cited the Essex Valley agricultural project in St Elizabeth, where about 1,000 farmers are being assisted with drip irrigation.
He also noted that farmers in Clarendon and St Catherine will not be left out as they will also be helped with small drip irrigation systems.
Shaw also said that agroprocessing centres are to be set up across the country and that they will be run by private individuals, adding that GraceKennedy will set up an agroprocessing centre in Denbigh, Clarendon, soon.