Reassess the policy of converting prime arable lands to housing – Frazer BinnsWednesday, April 21, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Senator Sophia Frazer Binns, the People's National Party (PNP) shadow minister of land, environment and climate change, is calling on the Government to rethink its plans to use existing sugar lands in Trelawny for housing.
Frazer Binns is adamant that food security must be central to any decision made about the use of prime agricultural lands.
Frazer Binns wants the government to consider other solutions instead of using fertile agricultural lands for housing developments.
“The lands being designated by the Government for housing developments comprise some of Jamaica's best for food production. These lands are essential to any strategy to ensure that Jamaica can successfully navigate major crises such as the currently evolving COVID-19 pandemic,” the shadow minister remarked.
The senator is urging the Government to be more deliberate in its land use policy, in the face of the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic has highlighted the urgent need to address issues of food insecurity amongst the Jamaican people, and a conscientious Government must use data to guide decisions around the distribution of agricultural lands. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted global supply chains and has spurred economic fallout which strengthens our call for the prioritisation of food production,” she said.
She said Jamaica's imports for January to September 2019 were valued at US$4,816.5 million, an increase of 6.5 per cent when compared to what was spent for the similar period in 2018.
“This according to the International Merchandise Trade bulletin released by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, which indicated that the food import bill was one of the primary commodities that contributed to the increase.
“If agriculture accounts for only 6.6 per cent of our GDP, we have the opportunity to grow the industry and protect our environment by doing so in a sustainable way,” Frazer Binns said.
She added: “The Opposition strongly supports the need for increased access to affordable housing, but we must do so without affecting our capacity to produce our own food.
“The Opposition remains committed to engaging in discussions with the Government on the best ways to mitigate food insecurity, and to explore housing solutions on less arable lands.”
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