Within just one a week after taking office, newly minted Agriculture Minister and fisheries Audley Shaw, appears to have begun to heal the deep wounds caused by the bitter rift between the government and the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) as well as the Coconut Industry Board developed under Ministers Carl Samuda and JC Hutchinson.
the New Agricultural Minister says he intends to collaborate with the (JAS) as well as the Coconut Industry Board (CIB) as he tries to increase agricultural production in the country.
Addressing patrons at the annual Montpelier Agricultural Show in St James on Monday, shaw in outlining his new thrust for the sector said “we need all hands on deck and therefore, far from alienating the JAS, we need to embrace and tap into this vast reservoir of farmers, mobilised under the banner of an institution that is over 125 years old”.
“We need to establish a genuine partnership,” the agriculture minister said adding that that is his reason for his presence within a week of his appointment.
Shaw said that he was also going to reach out to the Coconut Board, because his agenda was to ensure that the vast resources that they have were applied to the expansion of coconut production and the building of a vibrant coconut industry.
Minister Shaw announced that Cabinet had dropped demands for $2 billion from dividend earned on Seprod shares owned by the Coconut Industry Board.
This represents a major shift from the previous policy position where the then Agriculture Minister Karl Samuda had demanded that the money be channelled into the Consolidated Fund to help drive agricultural development, and which was strenuously resisted by the Coconut Industry Board.
Elaborating on this position as he spoke at the St. Mary Agricultural show yesterday, Shaw said "as minister, my objective is not to try to take away the money and put it into the Government's revenue, because right now, the debate is about whose is it. That must not be the debate.
The real debates must be to take some of the money and help farmers get serious into coconut production all across the country, starting right here in St Mary. That must be the plan, not to take up some money to balance the Budget, while GraceKennedy have to go to Africa to get their coconut raw material because they cant get it in Jamaica," the new Agriculture Minister declared.
- Countries: Jamaica