$16.5 Million to Assist Young Persons and Women to Plant Irish Potato

Story Highlights

  • Approximately $16.5 million in grant assistance has been provided by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, and several stakeholder partners, for 100 young persons and women, under the 2015/16 National Irish Potato Expansion Programme, currently underway.
  • Portfolio Minister, Hon Derrick Kellier, said the allocation will finance the provision of planting material and fertilizer, in addition to assisting the beneficiaries with crop care.
  • The Minister was speaking at the Irish potato programme’s recent launch, in New Pen, St. Mary, where presentations were made to the first 11 beneficiaries who reside in that parish.

Approximately $16.5 million in grant assistance has been provided by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, and several stakeholder partners, for 100 young persons and women, under the 2015/16 National Irish Potato Expansion Programme, currently underway.

Portfolio Minister, Hon Derrick Kellier, said the allocation, which includes inputs from the Canada-based Promotion of Regional Opportunities for Produce through Enterprises and Linkages (PROPEL) project, will finance the provision of planting material and fertilizer, in addition to assisting the beneficiaries with crop care.

The Minister was speaking at the Irish potato programme’s recent launch, in New Pen, St. Mary, where presentations were made to the first 11 beneficiaries who reside in that parish.

Additionally, Mr. Kellier said 40 hectares of land are also being provided for the beneficiaries, who will be expected to cover the cost of preparing the plots for cultivation, as well as labour inputs.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Lenworth Fulton,  said approximately 140 of the 1,200 hectares earmarked for cultivation under the initiative, are being targeted in St. Mary.

“We hope to reap from that (140 hectares)…approximately 2,200 tonnes, involving approximately 300 farmers,” he added.

Mr. Fulton also advised that more than 600 farmers have participated in the youth component of the programme, dating back over three years.

He said RADA, which has been instrumental in administering and managing this component will, this year, relinquish a significant portion of that responsibility to the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, “which was really designed for that.”

For his part, Minister without Portfolio, Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing and Central St. Mary Member of Parliament, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy, welcomed the launch.

The Minister said he is optimistic that the region will acquit itself, particularly in relation to Irish potato outturns, given increased rainfall which Jamaica experienced during the fourth quarter of the 2015 calendar year.

“We have the potential…and I know that you the farmers (of) St. Mary are a resilient group of people who will meet the targets which have been set by yourselves, as well as the Ministry,” he said.

Western St. Mary Member of Parliament, Jolyan Silvera, who indicated that he participated in the programme several years ago, advised that he has allocated over $1 million to provide potato seeds for farmers in the parish.

This, he said, has been supplemented by  $400,000 from the Agriculture Ministry, to provide fertilizer for the participants.

One of the beneficiaries, Hyacinth Hurlock, expressed gratitude for the assistance, and pledged, on behalf her colleagues, to “follow through” on the information provided, “and make the best use of all the opportunities that have been provided to us.”

The 2015/16 National Irish Potato Expansion Programme, being funded at a cost of approximately $911 million, is targeting the cultivation of 1,200 hectares of the crop, which the Ministry hopes will yield 15 million kilogrammes of produce, deemed adequate to meet local demand.

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