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Kellier praises Farmers in St. Ann for helping to reduce food import bill

Featured Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Derrick Kellier, addressing farmers at the Frazer Church of God of Prophecy in Cascade, St. Ann, on December 3 during a tour of farming communities in the parish. The occasion was a tour of some seven key farming communities in St. Ann, to examine the effects of the drought conditions on farming activities. Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Derrick Kellier, addressing farmers at the Frazer Church of God of Prophecy in Cascade, St. Ann, on December 3 during a tour of farming communities in the parish. The occasion was a tour of some seven key farming communities in St. Ann, to examine the effects of the drought conditions on farming activities.
With the $5.014 billion dollar decline in the country’s food import bill, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries,  Derrick Kellier is praising farmers in St. Ann, for their resilience and commitment, who, despite the drought conditions, successfully increased food production, which aided in the reduction of the country’s food import bill.

Addressing farmers recently  at the Frazer Church of God of Prophecy in Cascade and at Bamboo Square, St. Ann, Minister Kellier quoted statistics which indicate that the country’s food import bill declined by J$5.014 billion (US$43.6 million) last year, representing a 4.5 per cent reduction over the corresponding period in 2013.

“Agriculture is the backbone of the country and the largest employer of labour in Jamaica.  It is the most significant pillar in the growth agenda of the country.  In the last quarter we registered a 3.3 percent growth and that is fantastic coming out of the severity of the droughts we just had, continuing from last year,” Mr. Kellier said.

The Agriculture Minister said that the Ministry has embarked on a programme, to provide support to the farming areas that were devastated by the drought, and were  "in the process of distributing some 5,000 water tanks to the hardest hit areas,” the Agriculture Minister informed.

He added that the Ministry will make available more fertilizer, black tanks, seeds and spray materials for distribution in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Mr. Kellier called on farmers to step up their production in crops such as Irish potato, ginger, sweet potato, among others, as the demand for these food items were great.

“There are some 52 food crops that have received pre-clearance status for exportation to the United States, Europe and other countries and we are therefore calling on the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) Field/Extension Officers to help guide you the farmers into production of these crops,” he stated.