JAS to stand on own two feet' in two years

JAS to stand on own two feet' in two years

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

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MINISTER without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries JC Hutchinson has informed that the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) will be transitioning from a government to a non-governmental organisation (NGO) over the next two years.

“This means that the JAS will have to stand on its own two feet, and it will have to make money, so that it can finance its operations,” the minister explained, as he addressed the Montpelier Agricultural and Industrial Show in St James on Monday.

The minister pointed out that the 125-year-old organisation, which currently boasts over 220 members, would no longer receive the annual sum of $100 million that was used to fund operations at the JAS.

Meanwhile, Hutchinson encouraged farmers to view what they do as a business in order for them to get maximum output from the agricultural sector.

“Farming cannot go on as usual; it cannot be the same old, same old thing. We now have to look at farming as a business,” the minister emphasised.

“One of the biggest problems in agriculture is marketing. Farmers will come into agriculture and the first thing they ask about is the market. What we find now is that, of the crops grown, higglers take the best produce, and the rest goes to waste. It is time now that we move to an area whereby we can market everything that the farmer grows,” he said.

Shaw said that the first agro-economic zone, which will be established at Holland in St Elizabeth, will tackle that very issue.

The 2,400-acre agro-economic zone will be comprised of farms as well as packaging and processing facilities. The project is expected to provide jobs for over 900 people.

The crops, when reaped, will be graded and distributed, with grade 'A' going to hotels and the export market; grade 'B' will be sold to the local market, and grade 'C' will be used to make purées, juices and other value-added items.

The Montpelier Agricultural and Industrial Show was organised by the St James Association of Branch Societies of the JAS. It is staged annually to promote the work of farmers in western Jamaica.

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