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Agriculture ministry targets self-sufficiency in Irish potato this year

Sunday, March 18, 2018

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MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica (JIS) — Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, JC Hutchinson says he is anticipating that Jamaica will achieve its goal of 100 per cent self-sufficiency in the production of table Irish potato this year.

He was speaking at the launch of the H&L Agro's Duwest soluble crop nutrition line at the Junction Guesthouse Auditorium in St Elizabeth on Wednesday.

Hutchinson said entities such as H&L Agro have been a pillar of support in Jamaica's National Irish Potato Expansion programme, which is aimed at reducing imports of the crop.
The objective, he said, is to lower the island's food import bill, which now stands at over US$800 million, and shore up food security.

“H&L Agro has been... working with our farmers to optimise their production through the use of proper agronomic practices, and I believe that, barring any unforeseen circumstances, we will achieve our goal this year,” he said.

The minister said partnerships between State and non-State entities, including input suppliers, have continued to contribute in a huge way to the growth of the agricultural sector, which he described as the “main driving force in the industrial development of this country”.

“As a Government, we understand the critical role that partnerships play in moving the agricultural sector forward as we strive towards attaining economic growth. In fact, I believe that partnerships, whether it is between the various government agencies or the private and public sectors, are critical to the overall development of our country,” he added.

Hutchinson noted that the ministry is working towards increasing the production of Scotch bonnet pepper.

He also reiterated the need to increase production by placing greater emphasis on value-chain production, which will ensure that “no agricultural produce goes to waste”.

“This means that we not only consume products in their primary state, but that we move along the value chain to produce items such as jams, jellies, juices, and use trash to be converted to fertiliser and feed,” he said.

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