Jamaican minister discusses efforts to update agriculture
- Submitted by: manso
- 08 / 02 / 2011
A Jamaican minister and a Chinese delegation visit, and a conference on the Cuban economy begins this week.
By MIMI WHITEFIELD. MiamiHerald.com. The green of Jamaica’s green, black and gold flag symbolizes agriculture and hope for the future.
But Christopher Tufton, Jamaica’s new minister of industry, investment and commerce, said last week there’s still work to be done in linking the crops Jamaican farmers produce to valued-added processing
Tufton, who spoke Thursday at the Jamaica USA Chamber of Commerce’s annual Movers and Shakers breakfast at Jungle Island, said that in developed countries about 75 percent of farmers’ production goes into making secondary products But in Jamaica only about 45 percent of farmers’ crops are used as the raw material for products that are further processed, he said.
Jamaica needs to move to the stage that its ginger, for example, becomes ginger oil and ginger tea, said Tufton, who until recently served as agriculture minister.
And he said there should be a market for valued-added food products among the 2 million stopover travelers who visit Jamaica annually, 1-million-plus cruise passengers, a local market that is becoming more sophisticated and the Jamaican diaspora.
“They all eat breakfast, lunch and dinner,’’ he said.
But one of the problems, Tufton said, is that Jamaican agricultural production traditionally hasn’t been consistent in quantity or quality.
Because of that, many hotels prefer to import food products that could be or are produced in Jamaica.
While he was agriculture minister, Tufton said the decision was made to refocus attention on agriculture, which employs close to 20 percent of Jamaica’s working population.
A new emphasis on technology and meeting the needs of the market has started to pay dividends, he said.
To combat erratic weather, Tufton said, some farmers have switched to hurricane-resistant greenhouses. Because of that technology, he said, Jamaica hasn’t needed to import any bell peppers this year.
Eye on Cuban economy
The Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy will hold its 21st annual conference at the Hilton Miami Downtown Hotel this week.
The conference, which is called “Cuba’s Evolving Socio-Economic and Political Landscape,” comes at a time when Cuba is in the process of reforming its inefficient, centralized economy and allowing more Cubans to work for themselves rather than the state.
Carmelo Mesa-Lago, professor emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh, will deliver the keynote address Friday.
About 100 economists and Cuba experts from the United States and abroad will present their work at the event, which runs Thursday through Saturday. Among the topics they’ll discuss are the current economic and social situation in Cuba, ongoing political social and economic changes, biotechnology, energy and Cuba’s search for oil, credit and tax policies, property rights and foreign investment, remittances and self-employment.
The main mission of the association is to study Cuba’s transition to a free-market economy and a more open society.
A delegation from Xiamen, a major city in southeast China, and Haicang, the district where Xiamen’s port is located, visited the Miami Free Zone last week to further trade relations with Miami.
The delegation named the China Sourcing Center, which is at the free zone, as its local representative. China Sourcing is a subsidiary of Globelink China Logistics, which is among the largest logistics companies in China.
The sourcing center, which has a large showroom where Chinese products are on display, is trying to promote South Florida as the bridge between Latin American and Chinese trade.
The relationship among Xiamen and Haicang and the China Sourcing Center will focus on not only promoting Chinese products but also on the importation of recycled materials from Miami into Haicang and the importation of high-end fruit from Latin America through Miami. Among the members of the delegation was the general manager of Xiamen Haitou Logistics, a large importer of recycled resources.