Ag loans get support

Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has thrown his support behind recent proposals by the Jamaica Agricultural Society and the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association for commercial banks to provide more affordable loans to the agricultural sector, according to the Jamaica Gleaner.

Speaking on the final day of the three-day Denbigh Agricultural and Industrial Show on Monday, at the Denbigh showground in May Pen, Clarendon, Prime Minister Patterson said “The lending agencies must be prepared to make money available to the farmers at reasonable and attractive terms.”

According to Mr. Patterson, “Being a farmer is not like being a seller of market goods, sometimes it takes years before you can reap what you have sown, and there are others who are always trying to reap what they have not sown.”

Pointing to the current challenges that face the agricultural sector, he said: “The days of preferences are no more, we’ve got to move from a sugar industry into a sugar cane industry.”

He added: “Some of the places that we plant cane, we have to turn them into orchards, we have to plant vegetables, we have to plant horticultural plants…”

Mr. Patterson stressed that, with the expansion expected in the tourism sector, there would be a struggle to meet the demand for agricultural produce.

While noting that more young people need to get involved in agriculture, he said the Government has been investing heavily in the area of research to develop new and improved techniques of growing produce in an effort to expand the country’s agricultural sector.

Mr. Patterson, in addressing the bumper crowd of patrons who came out on the third and final day of the agricultural show, highlighted his satisfaction with the quality of produce on display and congratulated the farmers on the level of resilience shown in light of the recent disasters that have affected the agricultural sector.

Under the torturing heat of the midday sun, the lines in front of the venue stretched long and as more and more persons stroll in to see the best of Jamaica’s agriculture on display by the many farmers who supported the event.

Senator Norman Grant, president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), announced toward the end of the formal ceremony that all the tickets for children had been sold out.