Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, is urging persons who have leased lands at agro parks to get them into production or risk losing them.
He lamented that scores of farmers are in need of lands for productive purposes, while persons are holding hundreds of acreages of government lands without farming them.
“Farm it, or lose it,” he warned, noting that “if you don’t have it in production within six months, we are taking it back”.
The Minister was addressing the 21stAnnual General Meeting of the Small Ruminants Association of Jamaica held on (May 10) at the Bodles Research Station in Old Harbour, St. Catherine.
The Minister called on the farmers to increase production, noting that the Government is looking to expand the small ruminants industry as part of measures to ensure food security.
He noted that the Ministry is continuing the breeding programme at the Hounslow Animal Research facility in St. Elizabeth, where rapid multiplication of improved genetic material is done and distributed to farmers across the island.
“As we continue to pursue new technologies to improve our breeding stock, six local technicians will be trained in non-surgical embryo transfer technologies during the month of June,” he indicated.
The Minister told the farmers that some 10,500 hectares of lands in St. Catherine, and Clarendon will shortly be available for lease to farmers, which can be used in the cultivation of feed in order to cut the high cost for processed imports.
Citing the model being used in the poultry industry, where companies provide guaranteed markets through contracts and technical advisory services to small farmers, Mr. Hutchinson said that this could be replicated to expand production in the small ruminants industry.