Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says that for agriculture to maximise its full potential, high energy costs must be kept in check.
“We cannot speak of transforming and modernising our agricultural sector without addressing how to alleviate those high energy costs,” he noted.
“The Government of Jamaica is well aware of the closely bound interaction between energy security and food security.
We are now developing an energy ecosystem that is diverse, environmentally sensitive and affordable,” he added.
The Prime Minister was addressing the opening ceremony of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean on March 7 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, St. James.
He noted that the Government has a target to meet 30 per cent of the country’s energy needs through renewable sources by 2030, and “we are currently at 18 per cent and on track to achieve that 30 per cent”.
He said that the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology will also explore the utilisation of biofuels to further diversify the country’s energy sources.
The Prime Minister argued that the possibilities for the agricultural sector greatly increase when electricity and other energy-related costs are less vulnerable to volatile oil prices.
He argued that with diversified energy sources, small farmers and agro-processors, and others who are employed in the agricultural sector will benefit from reduced operational costs through the use of renewable energy.
Such investment, he said, will serve to boost the agricultural sector, which he noted is important for rural development and economic growth.
“This is significant, because as empirical data have shown, in Jamaica overall, economic growth is strongly positively correlated with the growth in the agricultural sector,” the Prime Minister said.
“We are addressing the crucial nexus between energy and food security and finding solutions to secure both to put these two sectors in sync, which is a necessary component for sustainable development,” the Prime Minister added.