Jamaica News: Cabinet has received a submission from the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, seeking to reverse plans to sell the Agricultural Marketing Corporation (AMC) complex on Spanish Town Road in Kingston.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw, who says the nine-acre property was put up for sale in January 2016, reiterated plans to transform the complex into a modern agro-processing facility.
The complex was previously used to package exports and process produce for local distribution.
“We are creating a modern agro-processing centre [under] a public-private partnership [arrangement so] that every young person who wants factory space will be able to get it at the AMC. We need to create the factory and refrigeration space,” he said.
The Minister was speaking at the 2019 Jamaica 4-H Clubs National Achievement Expo, at the Denbigh Agricultural Showground in May Pen, Clarendon, on April 5.
Mr. Shaw indicated that other agro-processing centres will be established across the island.
Among these, he said, are GraceKennedy Limited’s establishment of a food-processing centre at the Denbigh showground; the old National Meat and Food Distributors facility in Lydford, St. Ann, which will also serve as a logistics centre; and a facility in Williamsfield, Manchester.
“There will also be establishments in the west, because places like Caribbean Producers Jamaica (CPJ) want to come on board to work with us in processing as well,” the Minister added.
Meanwhile, Mr. Shaw congratulated the Jamaica 4-H Clubs for its role in promoting agriculture among the youth, noting that it has provided scholarships valued approximately $70 million over the past three years.
“It has disbursed 600 bursaries and scholarships to students pursuing agriculture at the secondary and tertiary level,” he pointed out.
The Jamaica 4-H Clubs movement is the second largest globally, behind the United States of America, with approximately 1,050 clubs and over 11,000 members.
Meanwhile, Mr. Shaw has endorsed a suggestion by the organisation’s Executive Director, Dr. Ronald Blake, for Jamaica to adopt new food sources as part of the thrust towards achieving greater food security.
“I think this needs to be looked at carefully. We need to have an open mind on this,” the Minister said.
Dr. Blake, in his address, announced that for the Expo’s staging in 2020, a prize will be awarded to the parish introducing a new food source.
He also highlighted several of the organisation’s recent achievements, notably the provision of scholarships to students attending the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE), training initiatives, and the establishment of 567 school gardens.
The Executive Director expressed gratitude to the Government of Japan for funding support, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), to transform 70 school gardens into climate-smart plots under the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).
“I am (also) happy that our Youth Entrepreneur Programme is doing well, as we have recruited 155 young Jamaicans and we are going to be training them in partnership with HEART/Trust NTA, which is investing over $30 million in the programme,” he said.
Dr. Blake informed that once the youngsters demonstrate a penchant for farming, they will be “assisted with the venture capital inputs to start their own businesses”.
The Expo, which was held under the theme ‘Eco-based Adaptation Strategies: a 4-H Response to Climate-Smart Agriculture’, saw the crowning of the 2018 National 4-H Boy and Girl of the Year, each of whom received a grand cash prize of $1 million.
The top boy was Sandray Miller of the Spanish Town 4-H Club, while Imani Smith of Morant Bay High School in St. Thomas topped the girls’ category.
Source: JIS News