Turn Denbigh samples into widely available commodities, PM urges

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Observer staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

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PRIME Minster Andrew Holness is championing agriculture as the way to grow the country's economy.

“For too long we have seen agriculture as a pastime. For too long we have seen it as more of something that Mas Joe do. Now we have to see agriculture as a business; agriculture is big business,” Holness charged.

The prime minister made the plea at the 66th Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show in Clarendon yesterday.

Despite a downpour, hundreds of patrons — young and old — took advantage of the event's many offerings on the final day of the agricultural showcase, which is known casually as Prime Minister Day.

Holness reiterated the strategic merger of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, which he said was done to create immediate growth to the economy.

“Every time I come here at Denbigh I see the nicest sample products being packaged and demonstrated — cassava flour, ackee wine, and all kinds of exotic things — but they are just samples.

“What I want is for the Ministry of Industry and Commerce to take those samples and turn them into widely available commodities that are on the shelves of not just Jamaica, Cayman, but the entire region and the world, because that is how we add value and growth to our economy,” he continued.

Holness further explained that growth is not achieved, necessarily, by importing raw materials or building infrastructure. He said, instead, that growth is achieved by using raw materials in such a way that it will create a value chain that will constantly add value.

The prime minister posited yesterday that the strategy for growth is oftentimes confused with investment.

“We see a lot of investment coming into the island, but it does not necessarily mean that they will generate growth in all events, and the value that that investment is going to add to the material [or] the resources that already exist in your economy,” he said, adding that the easiest place to add value to the economy is in agriculture.

Admitting that climate change poses a challenge, Holness said technology must be used to find innovative ways to combat the problem.

“We need smarter agriculture, and adding technology to agriculture may not necessarily overcome the competitive economy scale that larger countries have, but it can bring us to a point where agriculture is economically viable,” he added.

In addition to that, he urged the Jamaica Agricultural Society to encourage the youth who are more tech-savvy, to create a smarter form of agriculture that will add more value to the natural resource.

The prime minister also toured the Denbigh show ground yesterday, which saw more than 100 booths showcasing products and services ranging from ackee and soursop wines to handmade skincare products, loan financing and appliance and furniture.

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