Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Timothy Harris, told key officials and business leaders today that the broad responsibilities which we accept for agriculture will not be met by talk alone but by the systematic and timely allocation of resources to meet the targets which we set ourselves.
Harris said “We know that agriculture has responsibilities in furtherance of national development. I envision a dynamic and competitive agriculture sector contributing to national development through its successes.”
Among the areas, said the minister, are:
- food security and nutrition
- income generation
- foreign exchange savings via import substitution of fruits, vegetables and fishes
- foreign exchange earnings. Potential for this exists in the export of our fishery, hot peppers, potatoes, onions, and pineapples. In the past we have exported these products but we have not sustained the penetration of the export market.
- environmental stability and climate change
- development of rural communities
The broad responsibilities which we accept for agriculture will not be met by talk alone but by the systematic and timely allocation of resources to meet the targets which we set ourselves, said the minister.
In this regard Harris said his ministry is finalizing the draft of a five (5) year Agriculture Development Strategy, for 2012-2016. He said that on completion, they shall have wide discussions on it and lay the document in Parliament in the interest of transparency, accountability and the wider engagement of the national community. This document will articulate the vision, identify our goals, enumerate our priorities by thematic references and identify the actions needed to accomplish our priorities, stated Harris.
The Senior Minister continued, “Our Agricultural Developmental Goals for example food security and nutrition cannot be accomplished in a 5 year strategy, but the strategy is crucial to provide the focus for actions and interventions aimed at making progress towards the overall vision for the development of our Federation and the agricultural sector in particular.”
In 2010 and again in 2011, agriculture grew greater than national average. In 2011 agriculture grew by a further 2.57% and the estimate for national growth was put at less than 1% after negative growth in 2009, 2010 and 2011. All these successes were achieved in spite of many odds.
Some areas which showed significant increases in 2011 relative to 2010 were:
1. a 120% increase in the output of white potato
2. a 105% increase in onion output
3. a 60% increase in cabbage output
4. a 39% increase in yam
5. a 30% increase in sweet pepper
6. an 18% increase in output of pineapple
Harris thanked farmers for their contribution to GDP. “I want also to congratulate our fishers who had a 20% increase in output of the fisheries sector,” he added.
For this year the government, said the minister, will continue its focus on food security, agriculture marketing and the transformation of the agricultural system.
These programmes when translated on the ground, and on the farm, where it matters, should lead to better use of modern technology, a greater application of science and larger output of farm produce, better and higher incomes for our farmers, and their families, and stronger communities.