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‘We have recovered’

PM says agri sector records growth

BY TANESHA MUNDLE Observer staff reporter mundlet@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, August 04, 2014    

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PRIME Minister Portia Simpson Miller says the country's agriculture sector has fully recovered from the devastating effects of the 2012 Hurricane Sandy to the point where it is surpassing production levels prior to the hurricane.

Speaking during yesterday's final day of the 62nd staging of the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show in Denbigh, Clarendon, Simpson Miller said the sector grew by 20 per cent in the first quarter of the year, and by a further 9.1 per cent in the second quarter, despite the prevailing drought.

"This demonstrates that the over $5 billion that this Government has spent in installing irrigation infrastructure system all over the island is paying great dividends. It is money which has been well spent," said Simpson Miller.

However, she said it was no reason to become complacent, as the country needs to pursue economic independence as it prepares to celebrate 52 years of political Independence.

"One important element of that economic independence is our ability to feed ourself as a nation, and agriculture continues to play a critical role with regards to food security, employment, income and rural diversification," she said.

"Agriculture is the life-blood of our economy. It is the mainstay of rural communities and the platform for rural diversification."

The prime minister also said that the agricultural sector provides a significant portion of the raw materials used by the manufacturing sector, while adding that she believed that it can produce more of the food needed to feed the two million tourists who visit the island annually.

Also yesterday, Simpson Miller lauded the farmers for what she described as resilience in weathering the different natural disasters that continue to affect the industry, including the current drought.

She, however, announced that Government will be approving $15 million for the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development to truck water for domestic and agricultural use to the most affected parishes.

The prime minister said that Local Government Minister Noel Arscott has also been instructed to develop an emergency response plan to complete plans by the agriculture and water ministries.

The minister will also be touring the most affected areas today.

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