Senior advisor in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr Omer Thomas says the COVID-19 crisis has exposed the weaknesses in the country’s agricultural infrastructure in relation to the distribution and marketing of local farm produce.
He said that while the Government has responded quickly as it relates to the markets for fresh produce which faces massive infield spoilage due mainly to the fallout in the tourism industry, this is not a permanent solution.
Thomas was speaking a short while ago at a virtual town hall meeting being held by the ministry.
He argued that consumers in population centres were starved of produce that were being dumped, because small farmers could not find a market.
Restructuring of the sector should address this malaise in the value chain he said.
Dr Thomas said going forward there needs to be greater value added activities in agriculture, pointing to resources that can be drawn from Rural Agricultural Development Authority and the Jamaica Agricultural Society.
He said COVID-19 has also afforded the country an opportunity to embrace the principle of an agricultural economic zone to bring some order to production and distribution of agricultural produce.
The advisor stressed that a protocol must be established to meet consumer needs for quality and quantity.