Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Karl Samuda (left) and Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) President Norman Grant (centre) examine a rabbit on display at the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show in May Pen, Clarendon, on Saturday. Looking on (right) is JAS first Vice-President Donald Berry. Photo: JIS
Samuda stated that he is proud to have been chosen to lead this ministry as it combines both agriculture and business which he said confirms the government’s commitment to the notion that agriculture is “big business”.
He also addressed issues regarding to businesses which buy their goods abroad to resell in Jamaica and which make a profit but do not reinvest in the country.
“It is so easy if you have cash to simply go abroad and buy something that is attractive and bring it home and sell; you add no value to Jamaica if you sell it as you bought it and you make a hefty markup, and we are not sure in some instances what you do with that markup, that profit. Does it stay to develop the agriculture sector, does it stay to develop the production sector?” Samuda questioned.
He stated that instead it is the farmers who are left to cry out for help having to pay exorbitant fees, face challenges in regard to getting loans, and in many instances, do not get paid on time.
“Many times, you can’t get the money in time, like the Cocoa Industry where they sell their products and after five months they can’t get paid. That has to come to a stop. And I am saying tonight, come October the price of cocoa will be increased by $600 a box and next year October by another $400 a box, but better than that they must be paid right away,” Samuda stated.
He also said that no importer who “imports merely to put on a shelf”, to sell and make profit, who requires a permit from his ministry will get it automatically.
“They must demonstrate their commitment to being a partner with the agricultural sector or the manufacturing sector. They must invest in Jamaica if they intend to use Jamaica as a place to make their profits; it’s time to put Jamaica first regardless of who may get upset,” Samuda told the audience.
He added: “Jamaica comes first, I am tired of seeing especially farmers who for years have toiled in the sun and suffered without water and they end where they started. It is time that they get the benefits that accrue to them through hard work in their own country and I am going to do everything in my power to ensure that they get a fair deal”.