Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness,is imploring the nation’s farmers to incorporate science and technology into their farming practices, in order to continue to increase the country’s agricultural output.
He suggests that the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) could use its influence with farmers to ensure the adoption of more innovative methods of farming.
The Prime Minister was speaking at the 67th staging of the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show at the Denbigh Showground, in May Pen, Clarendon, on Tuesday (August 6).
“It is important that the JAS becomes an advocate for the use of drip irrigation technology, for the use of mulching, to develop more creative ways of storing and capturing rain water, and for the preservation of our environment,” he said.
Further emphasising the importance of protecting the environment, Mr. Holness called on farmers to desist from using“longstanding agricultural practices,” such as the slash and burn technique, particularly in watershed areas. This practice, he said, has resulted in these areas being denuded, due to persons cutting down (and burning) trees for coal.
“I am the last man to ‘fight against’ any man who is seeking to earn a (living)…butit can’t be that if we are going to do some agriculture, we have to burn down everything,” he said.
In the meantime, Mr. Holness praised the organisers and show participants, noting that the stalls he saw during his tour of the grounds were “beautiful (and) the livestock was impressive,” adding that “agriculture is strong and robust in Jamaica. We see great opportunities, and great possibilities.”
The Prime Minister had toured the grounds with President of the Republic of Kenya, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta and his delegation, who are in the island for a three-day State visit.
In his remarks, President Kenyatta, who is also a dairy farmer, said he was pleased to have participated in a “premiere agricultural show,not only in Jamaica, but also in the Caribbean.”
“The quality of agricultural produce and livestock that we have seen is quite outstanding,” he said.
Commending the Government and the people of Jamaica for the progress made in agriculture, President Kenyatta noted that one of the things that interested him most “is your journey of innovation that has resulted in developing a livestock breed that is adaptive to the climate and to the pasture conditions of Jamaica,” and suggested partnership in this area.
“We would be more than keen to partner to see how we can take some of your breeds and probably how you can look at some of our breeds in order to develop livestock that is properly attuned to our respective climates,” he said.
The President added that more needs to be done to increase exchanges between Kenyan farmers and Jamaican farmers,“so that we can learn best practices from each other.”
He and his wife, Mrs. Margaret Kenyatta will also attend the Independence Grand Gala at the National Stadium later this evening.
The President and his wife are special guests for the celebration of the 57th anniversary of Jamaica’s Independence. They will depart the island on Wednesday (August 7).