Agriculture minister, Pearnel Charles Jr., has announced a new initiative to address food security as prices continue to surge.

Making his contribution to the Sectoral Debate Tuesday afternoon, Minister Charles outlined the details of the Grow Smart, Eat Smart programme.

The minister says this will see Jamaica ramping up its import substitution, boost food production and reduce food waste.

Chevon Campbell reports.

As world food prices have reached historic highs, the agriculture minister says the country’s food security remains a major focus.

While the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic linger, the world has been hit with another major shock due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

That region of the world contributes a significant portion of the world’s grains and energy and disruptions in both have resulted in food prices climbing by more than thirty per cent compared to the previous year.

Minister Charles says Jamaica has not been spared.

He says this requires a shift in how the country operates the agricultural sector. To this end, he announced a new flagship campaign to combat growing food insecurity.

The programme will focus on crop production, climate-smart practices and access to finance. A key component of the initiative is pushing for more substitutes for critical inputs such as wheat and fertilizer.

Meanwhile, Minister Charles Jr, says the agriculture sector grew by almost 8 per cent despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

He says fisheries also showed improvements over the period.

Pearnel Charles Jr., Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.