Government Senator Don Wehby is calling for suspension of the importation of agricultural items which are produced locally.
Senator Wehby was speaking in the Upper House Friday against the background of concern from farmers facing huge losses following the closure of hotels to which they would normally sell their produce.
Senator Wehby said the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) should move quickly to help the farmers.
“RADA needs to do a complete inventory of what is on the ground and I believe after that is done, we mustn’t spend importing any of these items that we can produce in Jamaica,” he said.
In the meantime, Dr. Wheby said the fallout from the coronavirus highlights the need for diversification of the Jamaican economy.
He has suggested greater investment in agriculture as part of the thrust towards diversification.
Opposition Senator Dr. Andre Haughton was in agreement, noting that the COVID-19 crisis should be a wake up call for Jamaica to embark on economic diversification and reduce the heavy reliance on tourism as a revenue stream.
With tourism a major contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the massive fallout now facing the sector due to the health crisis, Dr. Haughton said a shift towards multiple income sources is overdue.
He said there is need for greater reliance on agriculture as well as manufacturing.