KINGSTON, Jamaica: The Opposition is again calling on the Government to rethink the use of what environmental and agricultural experts call prime agricultural lands for housing.
Senator Sophia Frazer Binns, the People’s National Party (PNP) Shadow Minister of Land, Environment and Climate Change says this continuous intent by the Government to use parts of the Bernard lodge lands for Housing underscores the deficiencies in the Government’s Land use planning.
The Shadow Minister of water and agriculture the Hon. Lothan Cousins reminds us that “recently even during the pandemic with its trade disruptions imports of agricultural products like potatoes, tomatoes and carrots grew while local farmers suffered major spoilage.” That shows major gaps in our planning.
The Opposition supports the implementation of agriculture development, light industry, agriculture in Greater Bernard Lodge done sustainably to increase market competitiveness. However, Senator Binns is adamant that “we cannot with good conscience in the midst of the climate crises support plans that further put our food security at risk.”
Implementing an import swap program supported by interlinked agri-processing units using modern technologies can correct the imbalance of our exports. Cousins, Member of Parliament for South West Clarendon had this to say. “The same energy applied to mitigate against the disastrous effects of using our most arable land for housing should be applied to making a success of local agriculture. This protection of our food security from global trade disruptions is essential to our people’s survival.”
Senator Frazer Binns says the plan to have environmental and recreational spaces incorporated in the development, is not enough to satisfy the misuse of our best Agricultural land. A commitment to environmental protection and restoration must consider climate change and food security as issues needing targeted focus.
The Opposition remains committed to engaging in discussions with the Government on the best ways to mitigate food insecurity, and to explore housing solutions on less arable lands.