Jamaica News: Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw, says he will be engaging with large hotel chains in order to increase the supply of local farm produce to the tourism sector and cut down on food imports.
He said he will be working with Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, in achieving this objective.
“We have to sit down with them (the hotels)…. I am giving you this undertaking, we’re going to work very hard on this one,” Mr. Shaw noted.
He was addressing the 123rd annual general meeting (AGM) of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) at the Denbigh showground in May Pen, Clarendon, on July 11.
The Minister lauded the Sandals Hotel chain, led by Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, for setting up arrangements with farming groups and wants more hotels, especially the Spanish chains, to follow suit.
He said that Sandals has purchased “hundreds and thousands of pounds of Irish potatoes from growers in North East Manchester and other sections of the island and is using them in its hotels”.
Executive Member of the Manchester Production Marketing Organisation (PMO) and adviser to the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Laureceene Hanson, said Sandals did not hesitate to work with the farmers when the chain was approached by RADA.
“Whether you get seeds from them (Sandals) or you plant on your own, Sandals wasn’t afraid to purchase from us as long as the potatoes were in good condition. We have not failed Sandals and they have not failed us,” she asserted.
Meanwhile, Mr. Shaw said a strategy must be put in place to increase export of Jamaican products to other Caribbean countries duty free.
He reiterated plans to convert the Agricultural Marketing Corporation (AMC) Complex, located on Spanish Town Road, into a modern agro-processing centre, “so that people can put up a little factory”.
Chairman of the Clarendon Lay Magistrates’ Association, Aldo Brown, encouraged members of the JAS to become agents of change and the voice of influence in their communities.
“The agricultural sector is blessed with valuable members, who understand the values of patience, the importance of the process and its benefits,” he said.
Meanwhile, Outgoing JAS President, Norman Grant, said that based on its financial outlook, the entity is in a position to offer shares to its members and farmers.
This, he said, could lead to the JAS “raising $400 million to $500 million to drive further growth for the farmers and to assist in asset development, farmer welfare, central marketing and farm store operations.”
Mr. Grant noted that the JAS membership has “grown tremendously” due to a decision taken in June to undergo continuous registration of its members.
“Our total members are just below 200,000, which is different from our paid-up members,” he informed.
During elections held at the AGM, former RADA Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Lenworth Fulton, was selected as the new head of the JAS. Mr. Grant did not seek re-election.
Denton Alveranga and Owen Dobson were elected as First Vice President and Second Vice President, respectively.
Source: JIS News