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Minister wants production of more fruit juices for schools

Saturday, January 20, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, J C Hutchinson, has called for the production of more fruit juices to supply schools, given the great demand.

Speaking at the Women and Youth in Agriculture Consultation Forum at The Knutsford Court Hotel yesterday Hutchinson said the ministry is working on establishing agro-economic zones around the island to gather Grade C fruits from farmers, which will be puréed into fruit juices in bags.

He pointed out that it is a well-known fact that fruit juices have more nutritional value to children than the sugar-based bag juices that have flooded the market.

“If you travel throughout the country in June, July and August, you'll see all the fruits wasting. We want to get all of this and channel it into the schools for a breakfast programme, where we supply them with fruit juice, and not bag juice. We want to eliminate the bag juice, and the alternative is to provide fruit juice that we gather and we can store at the agro-economic zones and release it to the schools in a timely manner,” he said.

Hutchinson argued that by focusing on the creation of more fruit juices, more jobs will be created, the nation's gross domestic product will increase and the performance of the students will improve. In addition to providing schools with more fruit juices in bags, the minister said the ministry has the objective of either enhancing or creating fruit and vegetable gardens in schools across the island.

“These school gardens to be established in every primary and high school are very important because we would like these school gardens to provide food for their breakfast programmer. We have 30 per cent of our students going to these schools in the mornings without breakfast, and we find that these children have a problem learning, because they have not eaten breakfast,” Hutchinson said. “We believe a breakfast programme is essential for the schools. We are, therefore, looking at providing schools with produce from their school gardens that go specifically to the breakfast programmer, and, also, from the agro-economic zones we are looking at providing the fruit juice,” he added.

The forum was aimed at identifying some of the underlying challenges and opportunities for youth and women in Jamaica's agricultural sector, and to look at how these challenges can be alleviated and opportunities optimised.

The forum was hosted by The Promotion of Regional Opportunities for Produce through Enterprises and Linkages (PROPEL) and the World University Service of Canada (WUSC).


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