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Some 40 new greenhouses, which will be leased to small farmers, are to be established this year, through a project between the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Government of Jamaica.
Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, making the announcement during his contribution to the 2009/10 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on July 7, said that the establishment of these facilities, will expand greenhouse production by 25 per cent.
There has been a 30 per cent increase in greenhouse capacity over the past year, representing some 303 tonnes of tomato, sweet pepper, lettuce and cucumber.
As part of the project, two packaging houses will also be established, which will deal with the post-harvest management of crops, while a research facility is to be set up this year.
“We want to ensure that our greenhouse products are not threatened, so things like disease control and other forms of likely threats to greenhouse production will be handled within this greenhouse research facility,” Dr. Tufton informed.
As part of the thrust to boost greenhouse production, a Protected Agriculture Unit has been set up within the Ministry. Through the unit, more than 50 farmers and some 37 extension officers have been trained, and a training manual for greenhouse production was launched in association with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The unit is currently experimenting with new crops.
Turning to other matters, Dr. Tufton informed that the number of vehicles under the tractor programme will be increased. Under the programme, 14 new tractors were purchased at a cost of $50 million for hireage to farmers or agro-investors for land preparation. Trained tractor drivers have also been recruited.