Government Proposes Establishment of Agricultural Development Fund

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Jamaica News: The Government has proposed the establishment and operation of an Agricultural Development Fund (ADF), which will provide the much-needed impetus for immediate and sustained improvements in the agricultural sector.

This was announced by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, during his contribution to the 2019/20 Sectoral Debate, in the House of Representatives on July 9.

Mr. Hutchinson noted that legislation has allowed several agencies within the Ministry to impose a cess on the importation of agricultural commodities, and user and licensing fees have been imposed on local producers and dealers of locally produced agricultural items.

These charges and fees, he said, have been designed to provide operational and developmental financing for the individual agency.

“This has created an imbalance and disparity in the quantitative and qualitative rate of development between agencies within the same Ministry. For example, the Jamaica Dairy Development Board and the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority have been financed by a cess regime with surplus funds expended without intricate policy oversight,” he said.

The Minister added that the Bureau of Standards collects a cess on all fresh, semi-processed and processed agricultural commodities imported into Jamaica under the name of a Standard Compliance Fee (SCF).

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“It is being proposed that there be a repeal of the sections of the various Acts that empower the various public bodies (in agriculture) to collect cesses and or user fees or licensing fees from importers and local producers, and enact one single body for the imposition and collection of cesses for agricultural development,” Mr. Hutchinson said.

He noted that the ADF is intended to be a sustainable source of funding to support the implementation of critical commercial and development-oriented activities in the agricultural sector.

“The ADF aims to improve productivity in the sector, enhance the competitiveness of local farmers, and provide development financing to develop, repair and maintain the physical infrastructure of the agricultural sector,” Mr. Hutchinson said.

In addition, he said the Fund intends to bolster the research and technical extension capacity of the Ministry to dispense technology-driven solutions to the sector; provide low-cost loan funding to clearly identifiable high-yielding and profitable agricultural ventures; provide funding support to enterprises that are not highly profitable but critical for rural development, for example, the dairy and fisheries industries; and provide for the development and maintenance of the value chain.


Source: JIS News

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