Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. Peter Phillips, told the opening of the 2015/16 Budget Debate in Parliament that some eight agro parks have already been successfully established and another is to be completed before the end of the 2014/15 fiscal year.
“The Agro Parks, when fully implemented, are expected to impact some 5,000 Jamaicans directly and indirectly, as investors, farmers and workers, and have brought into agricultural production approximately 3, 280 hectares of under-utilized land,” the Minister said.
He noted that the development and expansion of the Agro Parks initiative will over time, modernise the agricultural sector, emphasising that an important feature of project is the utilisation of adequate irrigation systems.
“Our failure to modernise the infrastructure in the 23 agricultural sectors has left our farmers, particularly in the domestic food sector, vulnerable to droughts,” Dr. Phillips said.
He added that, “Our traditional approach has been to focus our investments in irrigation on a few export crops, such as sugar and bananas, leaving our non-traditional production to rely on rainfall.”
The primary objective of the Agro Parks initiative is to bring under-utilised rural land and labour into a more efficient agricultural production system.
As a result, crops are being produced at competitive prices to facilitate import substitution, enhance the agricultural supply chain, deepen industrial linkages and increase food security.