JIS News

Imagine having delicious home-grown peanuts with the invigorating taste and aroma of cinnamon spice, or flavoured with the rich essence of Jamaican ginger. Hmmm.
Well, for Jamaicans seeking an alternative to the traditional salted or honey roasted peanut flavours, or those watching their salt intake, then Jamaica 4-H may soon provide the perfect solution.
Through its peanut project at the Warminster Community Centre in Santa Cruz, St. Elizabeth, the club has plans to utilize unique Jamaican flavours to enhance its product and increase sales.
“The salted ones will be there of course, but we’ll also have cinnamon flavoured peanuts, ginger flavoured peanuts and those flavours that are unique to 4-H,” says Ron Blake, Field Services Coordinator for the Central Region of the Jamaica 4-H Club.
He envisions that visitors wanting to take back something uniquely Jamaican to their countries, will be most attracted to the new flavours.
Much of the success of this undertaking will however, depend on the Club’s ability to access funding to begin the processing of peanuts.
Since 1998, 4-H Club members have been planting peanuts at the Warminster Centre, supplying some 50 per cent of the St. Elizabeth market. “Presently under production is five acres (two hectares) of peanuts, with land space for expansion to eight acres (3.2 hectares)”, Mr. Blake tells JIS News.
The project is a source of income for the clubbites and their families, who are reaping the product. “Peanut production is very labour intensive and employs quite a bit of persons”, Mr. Blake says.But, the Club wants to create even more jobs for its club members and last August, initiated a project to begin the processing of the product.
“The idea .is to set up a processing facility that will process peanuts grown by the 4-H clubs and also by satellite farmers”, Mr. Blake says. The satellite farmers, who will be brought on board as soon as the project gets underway, will have a contractual agreement to produce peanuts for processing and will be provided with equipment and technical assistance.
“The project is at the stage where we are sourcing some of the critical funding”, Mr. Blake notes, adding that, “grant funding is currently being sourced for renovation of the facility and also to secure the necessary machinery that will be used to conduct the processing of peanuts”.
He informs that, “the Council for Voluntary and Social Services (CVSS)/United Way, has been one of the early partners in terms of the production aspect of the peanuts”. He indicates however, that in terms of the building and the machinery, “we have sent out proposals to grant funding agencies” and in another couple of months, feedback should be received as to the status of the grants for the project.
In the meantime, the clubbities will continue to sell the reaped product on the traditional market. The peanuts that have been planted have now come to maturity, and are currently being reaped for sale on the traditional market.
“We have reaped more than the last crop . at least 70 bushels, which is an increase of 10 from what was reaped the last time”, centre manager Lesley Thompson states.
He tells JIS News, that the peanut project has positively impacted the community, in that, it has created gainful employment for many persons. “When we begin the processing and packaging, we are also intending to employ persons in the community,” he indicates.
Mr. Thompson will supervise the processing aspect once it begins, while the 4-H Club’s board of management, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), as well as farmers and technical persons from the community will also be involved.
“When our operation is up, in addition to the jarred peanuts . we are going to be having the usual sachet that will be produced principally for the local market,” Mr. Blake informs. “We are also going to be looking at an up-scale market for the jars .taking greater sales in the gift shops,” he adds.
He notes that, “the peanut project holds a lot of promise and it is something that we are upbeat about.”He expresses the hope that, “the goodwill that we have, we hope will open the doors of our potential sponsors, who will make it the final reality”.
The Jamaica 4-H Clubs, one of the leading youth training organizations in the island, is currently embarking on a number of programmes and activities in agriculture, homemaking, leadership, environmental skills and informational technology, aimed at creating employment.