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The Agro Industrial Development Project has been allocated some $9.8 million in the 2006/2007 Estimates of Expenditure, now before the House of Representative, to among other things, encourage the use of Jamaica’s bio-diversity and raw material resources, to boost economic development.
The project, which is being implemented by the Scientific Research Council, will also assist local food processors in expanding their capacity to produce a wide range of low acid canned foods to international specifications and to formulate an economical fish ration with locally available feed components, which can be used by ornamental fish growers to produce export quality fish.
The project, which was originally slated to last from February of 2003 to December 2005, was granted a further extension to November of 2006. The initial total estimated cost was $26.792 million but was later revised to $37.195 million.
Physical targets initially envisaged include the development of a local bacterial spore bank for use by food processors and food scientists to develop appropriate processes for food preservation; development of the agro-processing industry; development of technical capacity and competence in the utilization of natural products and investigation of four local materials to be used as components in fish feed formulations.
This is in collaboration with the aquaculture branch of the Ministry of Agriculture and Land and ornamental fish farmers, using their facilities to conduct experiments.
As of November 2005, achievements include the acquisition of a high pressure thin layer Chromatograph (HPTLC) unit and freeze dryer; attendance at Worldnutra Conference to gain insight into trends, and technologies in the Nutracuetical industry; symposium conducted with over 50 participants; enhancement of capacity building through two internships in Costa Rica and India; re- establishment of cultivation plots for ginger and tumeric by training community groups; attendance at the seventh annual Vitafoods conference to gain information on the latest scientific, regulatory and technical developments.
Anticipated physical targets for the fiscal year should see the acquisition of extruder for product development; continued documentation of protocols for the nutraceutical, cosmoceutical and health food industries; continued quality assurance workshop for targeted groups; market scooping studies and procurement of journals and particulars relevant to the nutraceutical industry.
The project is funded by the Government of Jamaica and the Inter-American Agency for Cooperation and Development and will be carried out under the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Science and Technology.