Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, the Hon. Audley Shaw, is urging coconut growers to “start the planting programme now” in order to rebuild Jamaica’s coconut industry and return it to, or even surpass peak production levels formerly attained.
“Our focus now,” Minister Shaw told the growers at their AGM held Saturday May 5 at the Jamaica Conference in downtown Kingston, “should now be squarely turned on demanding how we will move our coconut industry forward, given the noted increase in global demand.”
Lamenting the fact that while global demand for coconuts have increased, Jamaican production has declined, Minister Shaw said that his job and his mission was to lead production back to its peak.
“We are going to build back coconut!”, he declared.
With reference to the current impasse regarding the determination of the ownership of the Coconut Industry Board’s shares in Seprod, Minister Shaw told the coconut growers, that his focus was not on how to get a part of the value of those shares, but rather on how to use those shares to create a more vibrant and expanded industry.
He reported that his Ministry and the Coconut Board had agreed on a three-pronged formula for the way forward, with the first call on the resources of the Board being to build a strong platform for expansion of the industry , involving increased production of seedlings and a strong research and extension programme.
The strategy also includes the acquisition of over 1,700 acres of farm lands in Water Valley and Unity Valley in St Mary. Subject to Cabinet approval, the Coconut Board also plans to acquire the Richmond Cocoa Fermentry also in St Mary.
In order to give effect to the three-pronged strategy, Minister Shaw said, he will seek Cabinet approval to retain the CIB as a statutory body with the primary mandate for crop development; allow the Board to form a commercial subsidiary to undertake the commercial development of the properties, while JACRA, the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority, will retain responsibility for the regulation of the industry.
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The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF) has been charged with the responsibility of driving the integration of the production of primary agricultural produce along all the stages of the supply chain through to value added and facilitating full commercialization of outputs of the agriculture, manufacturing, and service sectors.
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