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Jamaica announces food security programme

Jamaica announces food security programme
Pearnel Charles Jr. (GP)

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KINGSTON – The Jamaica government says it will introduce a new campaign targeting several priority areas as part of the national food security thrust.

Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Pearnel Charles Jr, said that the campaign dubbed “‘Grow Smart, Eat Smart” will target areas such as crop production, climate-smart practices and technologies, access to finance, and advancing and expanding insurance for farmers, with a focus on praedial larceny.

It will also facilitate development of a National Farming Trust and expansion of fisherfolk and farmers insurance and Charles said it builds upon the existing policies and programmes to increase production and consumption of local produce.

“It is also intended to… introduce innovations and technology, and advance research and development towards [improving] operations to develop and, ultimately, achieve better results. We will grow smart and eat smart,” he told legislators.

Among other things, it is intended that the campaign will examine the current culture in the agriculture sector and address the gaps to promote greater collaboration and efficiency.

These include providing financing, technical training and support for farmers, especially the youth, to take up farming as a viable business option; providing more leases for idle agriculture lands; and promoting linkages and partnerships.

“We will be focused on driving the linkages with health and updating the current food and nutrition policy to boost consumption of nutritious local foods,” the Minister informed.

Charles said that the campaign will also seek to revamp the school garden programme to, among other things, introduce new technology, such as hydroponics, which will be piloted in high schools. Inputs will be provided to institutions to start gardens.

The government will also launch a Praedial Larceny Working Group, provide support for access to agriculture inputs and facilitate market-driven opportunities for farmers and fisherfolk through this campaign. (CMC)