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Agriculture land bank being developed

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MINISTER of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw says a land bank is being developed, geared at pinpointing properties across Jamaica that are suitable for agriculture but are not being used.

Speaking at the opening ceremony for the Small Business Association of Jamaica’s second regional Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (MSME) Conference on April 17 at Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, Shaw said the new land bank will help individuals who are seeking land for farming to gain access to them easily.

He said the lands are classified in three categories. These include sugar company lands that are no longer being used for sugar cane, lands held by the National Land Agency, and idle bauxite lands.

“That inventory of land I’m going to make available to the people of Jamaica — so you can see where the lands are across the country that are idle. The leasing is starting now, so if you haven’t applied yet and you want land, apply for it at the National Land Agency,” the minister said.

Shaw also emphasised that individuals who take up the offers will have to use the lands in a specific time frame.

The minister commended the organisers for hosting the regional conference.

“MSMEs contribute significantly to gross domestic product and are a growing source of export revenues, particularly in developing nations such as Jamaica. I am, therefore, keen on being a part of any discussion that has at its core the advancement of our MSMEs, which are an invaluable asset to our country,” Shaw said.

“The impact of this sector cannot be overemphasised, given our quest for economic growth and stability. It is, therefore, paramount that, as Government, we remain on the path to creating a facilitatory ecosystem for the MSME sector to thrive,” he added.

The objectives of the conference were to facilitate exposure to new trends in business development and management; promote success stories among MSMEs; examine MSME policy within the context of macroeconomic strategy and its impact on business profitability; provide a forum with interaction that explores opportunities for national, regional and international business collaboration; and to expose participants to new technologies, research and development in agriculture, as well as climate-smart innovation.

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