Above: Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke and JAS President Glendon Harris in Trelawny (JIS Photo)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Jamaica is seeking to revive its traditional crops, with sugar at the top of the list.
There is currently around $6.6 million USD in the Cane Expansion Fund, with the government looking to more than double that number in the next two years.
“Cane farmers are being invited to apply for loans to replant or plant cane at a concessionary interest rate of 5 percent repayable over five years,” said Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke.
The Minister was speaking at the official opening ceremony for the Hague Agricultural, Food and Livestock Show in Trelawny Wednesday.
Jamaica completed the privatization of its sugar industry last year, and Clarke said the challenge now would be fully using existing capacity.
That privatization netted approximately $11.9 million to the government, Clarke announced earlier this month.
“The farmers of Trelawny now have every incentive to expand sugar cane production, and the Cane Expansion Fund will be at [their] disposal,” he said.
Clarke also said the government would be spending around $1.1 million to build a new agro-park in Ettingdon.
“Agriculture must be seen as very essential to the country’s economic stability, as it presently accounts for 220,000 direct employment within the country’s workforce,” said Glendon Harris, president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society.