Politicians perpetuating agri fraud - JC Hutchinson
While some progress has been made in trimming Jamaica's food import bill, the national effort to achieve sustainable food and nutrition security is being undermined by people fraudulently posing as farmers and the politicians who continue to aid and abet them.
"Many of our farmers are now looking at agriculture ... as a handout 'gi-me gi-me' activity, where you have the politicians, like myself, who provide the inputs to these farmers and in many instances, you find that many of them are not really farmers," veteran politician J.C Hutchinson admitted on Friday.
"For instance, we, as politicians, will find persons come to our office and we give them fertiliser, we give them chicken, but before they even reach their house you find [out] that they sell it. Plenty of them get chicken and when you check [it out] they don't even have a chicken coop, and so they come back to the politician again and ask them for more," he told a Women and Youth in Agriculture consultation at The Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston.
"This cannot be a sustainable enterprise when we have this 'gi-me, gi-me', handout mentality. It has to stop and it has to be cut out," the minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries insisted.
Meanwhile, in a statement to Parliament on Tuesday, Karl Samuda, minister of industry, commerce, agriculture and fisheries, blamed the poor performance of the agricultural sector in 2017 on a range of adverse weather conditions, as well as pests and disease infestation.
This combination, he said, would result in a four per cent decrease for the sector over 2016 when there was growth of 13.5 per cent. He said that the prospects for the new year were not encouraging.
"Unfortunately, the inclement weather continued into 2018, and we have so far witnessed extensive flooding in Portland,
St Mary and Trelawny, not only causing agricultural damage to the tune of over $343 million, but significant infrastructure damage, such as farm roads," he disclosed.