Preliminary figures from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries have shown that the agricultural sector continued expanding in the last quarter of 2009, ending the period with an overall 23.1 per cent increase in production over the similar period in 2008.
The Ministry has calculated that the growth over the October to December quarter led to a 20.5 per cent increase in gross domestic product (GDP) for the quarter. The Ministry also noted that there was an overall 13 per cent increase in crop production in 2009, when compared to figures from the previous year.
Last quarter’s production growth included a 33.5 per cent increase in domestic crop production over the similar period in 2008, the sixth consecutive quarter of growth in the sub-sector. This growth contributed to the overall 22.4 per cent increase in domestic crop production for the year.
The figures were revealed by Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, during the Ministry’s quarterly press briefing at its offices in Kingston, today (February 2).
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton (right), addresses the quarterly press briefing called to present the agricultural production figures for the October to December quarter of 2009, at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, on February 2. To his left are Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr. Donovan Stanberry and Director of the Veterinary Services Division of the Ministry, Dr. Marc Panton.
Top performers in the domestic crop sub-sector over the quarter were: plantains with a 131.2 per cent increase; condiments, 63.0 per cent; vegetables, 40.6 per cent; cereals with 32.4 per cent; yams, 26.7 per cent; and potatoes, which recorded a 23.5 per cent growth. The only crop group to record a decline was legumes, which saw a 1.3 per cent drop in production.
However, there was a mixed performance in the traditional crops group, with cocoa recording a 46.5 per cent increase over the similar quarter in 2008, and coffee declining by 40 per cent as a result of drought during the critical fruit set period.
The Minister declared that 2009 was a good year for the sector, which has shown resilience, despite the global economic recession.
“We have seen for the year, some 490,000 tonnes of food being produced and this volume of food is similar to what was produced in 2003. What this is saying to me is that the sector has rebounded from the impact of the series of hurricanes that we have had from 2004 to about 2006,” he said.
Portland saw the highest increase in crop production with a 160.9 per cent increase, followed by St. Mary with 92.1 percent and St. Thomas with 69 per cent. These parishes were hardest hit by Tropical Storm Gustav in September 2008.
Dr. Tufton also noted that the growth in the sector was accomplished despite extended periods of drought as well as an outbreak of the beet army worm.
The Minister is projecting that the growth observed over the last sixth quarters should continue into this quarter of 2010.