The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is looking to identify more arable lands on which to cultivate sorghum, a crop currently being tested as a substitute grain for animal feed. This was disclosed by portfolio Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, while speaking to journalists today (April 19), following the harvesting of a pilot sorghum crop in Hill Run, St. Catherine. The Caribbean Broilers (CB) Group undertook the test project at its facility, to grow sorghum locally for feedstock as a replacement for imported corn. The Minister noted that lands have already been identified at Amity Hall in St. Thomas at one of the nine agro parks being developed across the island, aimed at enhancing food security and cutting the country’s food import bill. He informed that the CB Group will be undertaking this planting exercise and that the land is currently being prepared. “We’re targeting in that agro park, some 1,700 acres. They (CB Group) are moving now to put in 800 (acres)…and we’re trying to identify more lands. They have asked for some 6,000 acres…so the sustainability is there and we are determined to put whatever idle lands we have into production,” the Minister said. Sorghum is a genus of numerous grass species, some of which are raised for grain and many of which are used as fodder plants. The plants take three to four months to reach maturity and are cultivated in warm climates around the world. “We are not only dealing with sorghum. We are dealing with other crops. We are going to be doing probably over 600 acres of onions. We are already moving with Irish potatoes – a whole slew of things that we’re doing (to utilize arable lands),” Mr. Clarke said. The Minister said he is pleased with the impact that growing the sorghum locally “will have on our importing grains for our animal feed”. “This was just an experimental plot, but the yield has been significant in terms of international standards and it’s just the beginning. This is just a start. What (CB Group) has learnt here is what will help them to improve in production and productivity as we go along,” he stated. Manager, Corporate Affairs, CB Group, Dr. Keith Amiel, informed that 60 per cent of the corn that goes in feedstock is imported, hence the need to create a local substitute. “The idea is to try to see how much of what we’ve been importing we can produce locally….We are going to try to make use of the unused land…it would take us about 6,000 acres to produce 10 per cent of the (crop) locally and of course, we can go up to any amount using the land that’s available,” he said. Agriculture Consultant, Johnny Haer, noted that sorghum is a dry land crop that is grown all over the world, because of its hardiness in drought and dry weather. He pointed out that this “is one of the reasons why we felt like it would do so good here in Jamaica…I don’t see why sorghum is not going to adapt very well to the Jamaican climate.” He noted that the crop harvested from the 300-acre plot, is estimated to “probably end up yielding…roughly 3,000 pounds per acre or 1.5 tonnes per acre.” CONTACT: ALECIA SMITH-EDWARDS
The policy’s formulation is consistent with the Government’s 2013/14 strategic priority focus on job creation and economic growth. The Industry Ministry is leading the policy’s implementation, through its key agencies and other private and public support bodies. The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) and Entrepreneurship Policy, which provides a comprehensive framework for the development of the sector, was officially launched on Wednesday, October 29, at the Terra Nova All-Suites Hotel in Kingston.The policy, which was launched by Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, seeks to minimise some of the challenges faced by the sector, which impede its formation and sustainable growth and development.The policy’s formulation is consistent with the Government’s 2013/14 strategic priority focus on job creation and economic growth.The document, recently tabled in Parliament, speaks to, among other things, increased finance to the sector and enhancing business development support. It also aims to foster a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation while tackling cross-cutting issues such as women and youth in business, and persons with disabilities.The Industry Ministry is leading the policy’s implementation, through its key agencies and other private and public support bodies, including the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO), Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ), Companies Office of Jamaica, Logistics Hub Taskforce, MSME Alliance, and Tax Administration of Jamaica (TAJ).In his address, Minister Hylton pointed out that the MSME sector is a critical pillar of the country’s economic growth agenda, and it is imperative that the Government places entrepreneurship and MSME development at the forefront of the public policy agenda.He said the launch represents an important milestone in a long overdue intervention by Government to strengthen the environment for MSME growth and development.“After extensive consultations with various members of the MSME stakeholder community, the Ministry crafted a comprehensive policy that will serve as a framework for implementing initiatives that will support the MSME sector,” he said.The Minister further noted that while there have been a number of initiatives on behalf of the MSME sector over the years, the MSME and Entrepreneurship Policy is the first intervention framework that offers co-ordinated, coherent and targeted support to the sector, in an effort to expand its contribution to economic growth and development.The event also marked the launch of Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), which is being celebrated in Jamaica for the first time. It is to be observed from November 18 to 22.GEW, which began in 2007, is recognised as the world’s largest celebration of innovators and job creators, who launch start-ups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth, and expand human welfare. Story Highlights The policy seeks to minimise some of the challenges faced by the sector.