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Jamaica (Agricultural Products)

Volume 23: debated on Monday 10 May 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance is currently being given to Jamaica to improve the production and marketing of agricultural products.

The Commonwealth Development Corporation is involved in development projects in forestry, coffee, the dairy industry and the flour milling industry. We are providing experts under the British technical co-operation programme for the Forestry Department and the Forest Industries Development Company.

The Tropical Products Institute gives advice to both Government and non-Government agencies in Jamaica on many aspects of production and marketing.

That is a welcome and constructive reply. Is any particular help given to the Jamaican banana industry, which in recent years seems to have fallen far short of the quota that it could use in the European market?

Throughout the Caribbean the banana industry is in considerable trouble. One of my senior officials was in Jamaica last week. If the Jamaican Government want any help, I am sure that they will have put that request to my official and I shall hear about it this week.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the major problems that Jamaica faces in marketing its products is the lack of managerial and administrative muscle? The principal cause of that is the lamentably low literacy rate on the island. Will my right hon. Friend consider assisting Jamaica by helping it to make primary schooling mandatory?

Mandatory primary schooling must be a matter for the Jamaican Government.

Will the Minister's decision to close an important sector of his Department dealing with land tenure and agricultural production and distribution, reducing the number of employees from 90 to 40, have any effect on the Government's assistance to Jamaica?