05 May Save farmers for Jamaica’s sake, Phillips
Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Peter Phillips says the nation’s farmers deserve a new deal that includes crop security, funding, property ownership and other significant support, if Jamaica is to overcome the scourge of poverty.
Speaking at the Jamaica Agricultural Society’s (JAS) President’s Leadership Breakfast at the JAS’ downtown Kingston offices this morning (May 3, 2017), Dr Phillips said Jamaica’s poverty situation can be resolved when the country successfully tackles the growing rural and agricultural blight.
With agriculture contributing only six per cent to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employing a whopping 20 per cent of the working population, Phillips lamented the fact that the take home salary of workers in the sector puts them way beneath the poverty line.
“Unless we transform agriculture to improve incomes, we will not overcome the challenge of poverty,” Phillips said.
The opposition leader added irrigation, marketing, technical advice, road development, pension and insurance to his list of must-haves for farmers.
“No country serious about growing its economy in any significant way can do so without being able to feed itself. The balance of payment that country would face prevents them from growing,” Dr. Phillips told the gathering.
He singled out praedial larceny as a scourge that would cripple the industry if it is not handled in a serious way. Phillips called
on the government to strengthen the mechanisms within the police force to tackle praedial larceny.
“We have to get away from the false understanding that praedial larceny is just a man picking a dozen oranges or cutting two bunches of banana. It is organized crime, they bring a high level of technology to bear to reap what they did not sow,” he said.