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Leaders agree JLP, PNP support national ID system, but…

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Leaders agree JLP, PNP support national ID system, but…

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, May 16, 2019

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Prime Minister Andrew Holness, his wounds apparently still raw from the Constitutional Court’s stinging rejection of the National Identification and Registration Act, Tuesday unveiled in Parliament T-shirts and other items, designed by the Opposition when it formed the Government, to promote the concept of a national identification system (NIDS).

The NIDS legislation was challenged in the court by the Opposition.

Holness informed the House that, following a Cabinet submission in 1995, when the People’s National Party (PNP) was in office, and with John Junor as the health minister, the process kicked off with a euro 200,000 grant from Europe.

He said that the PNP Administration spent US$1.2 million on the programme to introduce the system, and that 17 years ago current Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips, who was leader of Government Business in the House of Representatives at the time, had brought to Parliament a resolution establishing a joint select committee (JSC) to review a Bill approved by the Cabinet to introduce the system.

According to Holness, that Bill provided for a system of “compulsory national registration of individuals (and) to provide for the establishment and functions of a body, to be known as the National Registration Commission, to oversee the administration of a system of compulsory national registration and connected matters”.

Holness said he was a member of the JSC, as were Junor and current Kingston Central Member of Parliament (MP) Ronald Thwaites.

“I think it is very useful to remind the House of these very important facts,” the prime minister stated.

He was responding to St Mary Central MP Dr Morais Guy, who queried whether the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Government in 2011, had spent any funds on promoting the NIDS.

Dr Phillips suggested that the information produced by Holness made it clear that the concept of a national identification system was always supported by both major political parties.

However, he said that the PNP has always stood by its insistence on a JSC reviewing the provisions of the Bill before passage, as well as its concern about the potential of intrusion into the constitutional rights of citizens.

Holness, in response, said that his intention in raising the matter in the House was to show that it has been the case that both political parties have attempted to introduce a national identification system, and that its history goes back as far as 1982 when the Electoral Commission was considered best equipped to oversee the system.

“To repeat my point, all I am trying to do is to move Jamaica to that point where we have a modern identification system that can facilitate a digital society,” Holness insisted.

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JHTA boss upbeat ahead of flights from Peru

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JHTA boss upbeat ahead of flights from Peru

BY HORACE HINES
Observer staff reporter
hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, September 16, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) Omar Robinson is upbeat about the expected growth in tourist arrivals from Latin America.

“Latin America will be the region that provides the greatest opportunities for growth, especially as we prepare for the arrival of LATAM Airlines from Lima, Peru, which will operate in Montego Bay three times weekly. Latam is the largest carrier in South America, with connectivity to other South American countries such as Argentina, Chile, and Brazil — hence a large market for us to take advantage of.

“The LATAM flights will complement the 11 weekly flights into Jamaica on Copa [Airlines] — seven to Montego Bay and four to Kingston. There is also great connectivity from South America through Panama,” Robinson told the Jamaica Observer.

He noted that the 20 major travel industry professionals from Latin America, who were in attendance at the recently concluded 2019 staging of the Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) in Montego Bay, St James, were also optimistic.

“The Latin American delegates were very upbeat and positive about Jamaica. Most of them were here for the first time and expressed how pleased they were with the destination, the hotels, and the service provided,” Robinson declared.

The travel professionals were in Jamaica as part of Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett’s push to drive the development of new markets — as a means of boosting and diversifying tourist arrivals and new non-stop flights between South America and Jamaica.

“As part of our push to promote Jamaica as a premier destination to the Latin American market, more than 20 tourism industry professionals from several Latin American countries participated in the 2019 staging of JAPEX and were given tours of noteworthy tourist attractions,” said Delano Seiveright, senior advisor/strategist in the Ministry of Tourism.

JAPEX 2019, put on by JHTA in association with the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), was held from September 9-11 at Montego Bay Convention Centre.

“The travel industry professionals came from Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, and other countries, and were able to participate in tours organised by the JTB. The strategic meetings that took place as part of the site visits not only showed what Jamaica has to offer, but also provided an opportunity to build relationships and secure bookings over coming months,” Seiveright pointed out.

Two years after Bartlett led a delegation of tourism officials — including JTB Director Donovan White, Seiveright and JTB Deputy Director Donnie Dawson — to a meeting with senior executives of LATAM Airlines Group at their headquarters in Santiago, Chile, the airline is set to commence three weekly flights between Montego Bay, Jamaica and its major hub in Lima, Peru, starting December 2 this year.

“Already reports indicate that the flights are filling up nicely with passengers coming from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and other nations,” Seiveright indicated.

LATAM Airlines Group is Latin America’s largest airline, operating more than 1,200 flights per day and transporting 67 million passengers per year. It has one of the largest route networks in the world, offering air services to approximately 140 destinations in 25 countries, with significant presence in six domestic markets in Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.

Another major outcome was that one of Latin America’s largest airlines, Copa Airlines, increased to daily its service between Panama City and Montego Bay, bringing to 11 the overall number of flights weekly between both countries.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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Calls made for coffee farmers to get registered

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Calls made for coffee farmers to get registered

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, September 16, 2019

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NORMAN Grant, president of the Jamaica Coffee Exporters Association (JCEA), is pushing for all coffee farmers to be registered with the association.

According to Grant, who up to recently was the president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), he is concerned that only 4,167 of the known 4,578 coffee farmers in Jamaica are registered with JCEA, which means that there are at least 400 unregistered coffee farmers.

He said his association recently held discussions with the acting director general of Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA), Gusland McCook, on allowing unregistered farmers to continue selling coffee to the processors on condition that the processors assist in facilitating the registration of these farmers after the July 31 deadline.

“The JCEA’s aim is to have an ongoing registration programme for both existing and new coffee farmers, and, as we approach continuous registration, the coffee sector should have full compliance by the end of crop year 2019-20,” he stated.

He noted that the benefits of being registered include: Better control over praedial larceny; development of an insurance programme for coffee farmers; development and expansion of the coffee industry through increased production and productivity; and assistance in planning and administrating the farmers’ support programmes, including marketing.

Grant said the JCEA is appealing to the more than 5,000 coffee suppliers in the Jamaica Blue Mountain (JBM) and non-Blue Mountain areas to ensure that their farms are registered and, although the registration deadline has passed, they are being encouraged to contact JACRA or any of the member companies of the Jamaica Coffee Exporters Association for assistance.

Grant is currently in Japan leading the JCEA delegation to the Specialty Coffee Association of Japan (SCAJ) Exhibition, which ended on Saturday. The exhibition showcased Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee on the global space, as part of a strategy to reposition the Jamaican brand.

“We will also meet with members of the All Japan Association of Importers of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, to discuss orders and prices for the 2019-2020 crop year and look on a five-year marketing plan for the JBM coffee in the Japanese market,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

Production of Jamaica Blue Mountain and Jamaica High Mountain coffee for crop year 2018-19 was 189,531 boxes and 13,974.75 boxes, respectively. This was 10,985.60 boxes more than the 178,500 boxes of Jamaica Blue Mountain cherry berry and 14,013 less than the 28,000 boxes for the prior 2017-18 crop, which resulted from a 50 per cent decrease in Jamaica High Mountain and an overall increase of six per cent for the Jamaica Blue Mountain brands.

However, the total overall production of coffee in Jamaica for the 2018-19 crop was 203,505.75, which was approximately 1.5 per cent less than the 206,533.15 for crop 2017-18. This resulted from a 1.5 per cent decline in production in 2018/19.

The estimated earnings from the total production is US$12.5 million, which is almost 50 per cent less than the US$28 million the industry generated at higher prices that were available three to four years ago, he explained.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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Champion farmer beating the drought

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Champion farmer beating the drought

BY SHANAE STEWART
Staff Reporter
stewarts@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, September 16, 2019

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The extensive drought affecting most of the island has left several farmers facing ruin but Michelle Black, who was crowned Champion Farmer at the recent 67th staging of the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show has found a way to beat the heat.

The St Ann-based Black, who operates the Golden Dutchie Farm, has managed to minimise her losses by practising smart farming.

According to Black, who has been farming for the past nine years, she adjusted how she operated the farm to reduce the impact of the drought.

She pointed out that before the drought she was able to export yams but this has to come to a halt and that has been her hardest hit.

“Now that the time is dry we don’t export what we usually do [but] we are now supplying hotels and major supermarkets. We haven’t lost anything for this year…well, in a sense we lost because we had to produce less according to the amount of water we had,” Black told the Jamaica Observer North & East

“With that being said, I would like to thank the Rural Agriculture Development Authority (RADA) for being a tower of strength as they trucked water to us. Peter Thompson, chief executive officer of RADA, I really want to thank him for his help.

“And, now that we are getting rain, it’s a little bit better for us and so now we are able to produce the amount of crops that we used to. We do sweet peppers, yam, lettuce and several herbs and spices,” said Black, who started out with only 600 hills of yam.

Today she has more than 40,000 hills of yam and employs approximately 18 persons, including five females.

Excited about being named Champion Farmer for 2019 Black she told the Observer that: “It’s a great feeling. It’s a really, really great feeling. I grew up with my grandfather farming. He was doing it on a small scale and when we had extra, he would of course sell, but it was mainly for household purposes so farming is something that I have always been close to.”

Black added: “I wasn’t too proud to get my hands dirty as much as I sing and persons who knew me as a singer were shocked to see me venture into farming, but, I’ve always been interested in farming or agriculture.

“I wanted to become a veterinary surgeon and like a lot of people, my parents couldn’t afford it and so I started singing, but nine years ago I decided that I still wanted to do something in farming because I have so much love for it. I’m really passionate about it, so I started and the rest is history.”

She is hoping that her work will be a motivation for other women who are considering getting into farming and despite her success so far Black is aiming higher.

“For Golden Dutchie Farm, the sky is the limit. We are going to be doing a lot of packaging and we are planning to put different products together.

“Right now we have a new product that I can’t mention as yet that we are putting together to introduce to the market and we are hoping to do some processing later on,” said Black.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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