Dr. Chang, who was giving the main address at the 36th annual Montpelier Agricultural Show in St. James on April 17, added that there are also a number of other products that are widely popular but rarely find themselves on the supermarket shelves.
“Speaking on behalf of the Government, one of the challenges we face is to identify a number of these products and to ensure that we can commercialise them,” the Minister noted.
Dr. Chang pointed out that breadfruit makes a very tasty combination with various types of meat and could conceivably do very well in the overseas markets.
“Breadfruit is good-quality carbohydrate… which we produce in volume and could be packaged and go to the supermarket shelves. It can also be an import substitute that can bring income to our farmers… both on the local and overseas markets,” the Minister said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Chang said the Government has been initiating a number of policies that should be beneficial in the quest for economic growth, noting that the agricultural sector remains a top priority.
“The Ministry of Agriculture is now associated with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, which means they are now right beside each other, and which is the way it should be,” Dr. Chang added.
“It means that agro-processing, marketing and commercialisation now come under one window,” he noted.
Dr. Chang said he has seen the tremendous strides being made in agriculture to where something like “the backyard pepper sauce” is now creating waves on the global market and where pepper farmers are starting to see some meaningful returns on their investments.
He added that the Government is keen on doing its part to assist and to unleash the creative spirit that is so prevalent throughout the sector, noting that when agriculture succeeds, the entire country benefits.
Dr. Chang, pointed out, that along with tourism, agriculture represents one of the best foundations for growth and job creation, and remains critical to “reducing rural poverty”.
“Agriculture is one of our most important sectors that we must continue to give our full support. We have to ensure that agriculture keeps pace, as that is a very important linkage that will fast-track this country on the road to economic prosperity,” he said.
Dr. Chang said it is important for the country to invest in commercialising value-added products and market these both locally and for export.
For his part, President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Norman Grant, hailed the organisers for putting on what he called “another first-class exhibition”.
He said while the agricultural slogan ‘Eat What You Grow, Grow What You Eat’ might now seem like a mere cliché, it has been shaving nearly $6 billion off the nation’s food-import bill since 2003.
Mr. Grant noted that the large turnout for the 36th staging of the Montpelier show was a telling indication that the sector is alive and well.
“Agriculture will never fail us… it is what has kept this nation together. It is the sector that continues to be that real engine of economic growth,” he said.
- Countries: Jamaica