PM says ‘food freedom’ a priority amid plans to increase land access Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Amid noting that the country now has almost a generation of persons who do not believe in making sacrifices in order to reach their goals, Prime Minister Andrew Holness says such individuals believe that “everything must just come easy and quickly”.

This is while he said others like the farmers of Jamaica are geared at toiling hard in search of good rewards.

In addressing the final day of the three-day Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show in Clarendon on Monday, Holness said it is recognised that for persons focused on agriculture, there is need for now idle lands to be made available for farmers to cultivate.

He said with that in mind, a number of public agencies have been mandated to foster access to land for farmers and prospective farmers within the agro-park concept, with things like road and irrigation to be in place, so there is no longer any basis for land access to be raised as an issue in terms of getting into productive farming.

In urging small farmers not to be left behind, them having been the backbone of the country’s agriculture to date, Holness said he is finally seeing large-scale business persons taking interest in agriculture in terms of making sizeable capital investments.

He cited the Gazan Azan-led initiative that is slated for the Bernard Lodge area of St Catherine as one of several such ventures now on the table.

“We need the business minds in agriculture,” said Holness, indicating in the process that a mix needs to be reached between traditional and new, high-tech agriculture, as well as small and large-scale farming.

However, Holness said one of the bigger and more futuristic opportunities ahead is the Blue Ocean prospects for the country.

In noting that the country’s ocean space is some 24 times greater than its land mass, the prime minister said there are vast amounts of untapped resources in the ocean, “but we don’t have the capabilities to harness them”.

He said as a result, the Government has mandated Cabinet ministers Pearnel Charles Jr and Matthew Samuda to lead the way in developing the necessary framework for the country to benefit from the Blue Ocean resources.

Holness said the present global logistics crisis and the conflict in Ukraine have taught the country that food security must be a top priority, as when products get scarce, the prices can suddenly skyrocket.

In reflecting on the historical significance of Independence Day, the prime minister said freedom involves having options and, therefore, not being beholden to any particular interest or interests.

He said freedom in terms of agriculture means having food security, so all the necessary efforts have to be made to realise that goal.

In noting that Jamaica’s food importation bill is now four times its food export income, the prime minister said that is not something to be proud about, hence the need to favourably adjust the situation.

He said one of the key national areas of focus going forward has to be the need for “food freedom”.