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Story Highlights

  • Two food export entities in western Jamaica have benefitted from grant assistance amounting to $ 2.1 million from the Ministry of Agriculture, to undertake improvements to their facilities.
  • Portfolio Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, handed over the cheques to the operators of Advanced Farms/Martha’s Best Papaya in Martha Brae, Trelawny, and Golden Sun Limited in Glendevon, St. James, during visits to the facilities on Friday (April 17).
  • Speaking with journalists after touring the facilities and handing over the cheques, Minister Kellier said the assistance is to enable the entities to make improvements in order to meet the requirements under the US Food Safety Modernization Act and other international standards, and to provide safe food for the local population.

Two food export entities in western Jamaica have benefitted from grant assistance amounting to $ 2.1 million from the Ministry of Agriculture, to undertake improvements to their facilities.

Portfolio Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, handed over the cheques to the operators of Advanced Farms/Martha’s Best Papaya in Martha Brae, Trelawny, and Golden Sun Limited in Glendevon, St. James, during visits to the facilities on Friday (April 17).

Advanced Farms, which is a major exporter of papaya to countries such as the United States (US), Canada and the United Kingdom (UK), received $1 million to assist with establishing concrete flooring and partitioning for the packaging house, to allow for ease of cleaning and safety, as well as to improve process flow.

At Golden Sun Limited, where crops such as yam, avocado, pepper, sugar cane, escallion and thyme are packaged for export mainly to the US and the UK, Minister Kellier presented $1.1million to assist in the installation of hand-wash stations, fencing and partitioning, meshing for the doors and windows, and the renovation of changing rooms.

Speaking with journalists after touring the facilities and handing over the cheques, Minister Kellier said the assistance is to enable the entities to make improvements in order to meet the requirements under the US Food Safety Modernization Act and other international standards, and to provide safe food for the local population.

He noted that the country’s ability to trade and provide quality, nutritious and safe foods, depends on improving sanitary standards all along the value chain from production to the consumer.

“We have conducted capacity building exercises for over 5,000 farmers and some 70 exporters in areas such as good agricultural practices, safe use of pesticides and spray techniques, identifying and mitigating hazards, pest management for post harvest facilities, post harvest handling and chemical treatment, and worker health and hygiene,” the Minister informed.

He advised that the Ministry has also assisted farmers and fresh produce exporters to improve infrastructure, and ensuring that they meet local and international standards.

“Over the last three years, we have provided over $18 million to export facilities and (in collaboration) with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), have provided some $20 million to farmers for bathroom facilities, pesticide storage areas and packing sheds. Our export markets are important to us and for us to maintain our presence, we must continue our hard work, working with the farmers, middlemen, exporters and all other stakeholders,” Mr. Kellier said.

He informed that the country’s exporters accounted for over 20 million kilograms of processed foods in 2013, at a value of some $7.4 billion (US$70 million), and the objective is to improve these numbers through “increased production, productivity and adherence to international food safety requirements.”

As such, Minister Kellier said, “we are looking at Global Gap Certification for several of our agro parks and pursuing fair trade for farmers in select production zones. For 2015-2016 some $120 million have been allocated to this effort and we congratulate our farmers and all others … as we work together to support the growth agenda of our country,” he said.

Minister Kellier was accompanied by State Minister, Hon. Luther Buchanan and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Donovan Stanberry.