JIS News

The Ministry of Agriculture is revitalizing its Fruit Tree Crop Project, a programme to establish traditional but non-orchard fruit trees, excluding papaya.
Speaking with JIS News, Project Coordinator, Claudette Bernard, commented, “we are doing this because people are becoming more health conscious, and also the demand for nutraceuticals and juices is growing on the local and export markets.”
Jamaican traditional, non-orchard fruits such as naseberry, guinep, jackfruit, cashew, breadfruit, june plum, soursop and ackee are some of the fresh fruits in demand by the cruise ships and the tourism sector.
Fruits such as tamarind, june plum and soursop have captured a very large share of the market as juices.Ms. Bernard added that the Project did not only concentrate on harvesting from trees, but the process was more organized as the focus is on increasing quantity and quality of production. In addition, the Project also educates farmers on the measures to take in order to extend the health and life of the fruit trees.
There is also an environmental aspect to the Project, as soil conservation is one of the benefits to be derived from planting fruit trees, and trees naturally play a role in soil conservation, particularly on hillsides where they reduce soil loss.
The use of more fresh fruits and juices and less imported concentrates is being encouraged, Ms. Bernard shared.
“We also want to improve the cultural practices of the growers,” she added. “We stress pruning, better weed control, better pest control and (farmers should) make sure the trees have adequate sunlight and are not crowded together,” continued Ms. Bernard.
Approximately 450 farmers have benefited since the Project began in 2000.
The project is aimed at production and establishment. It is implemented island wide by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).
Training days are conducted with farmers, where they are taught how to resuscitate older fruit trees, and how to establish the orchard properly. This includes the lining of the land, and ordering the trees in straight lines, as well as better management practices.
The project is an ongoing one, with a target of 1,700 hectares. Up to the end of October, a little over 1,000 hectares were planted.
Interested persons can apply to the Fruit Tree Crop Project, or RADA, whereupon, the prospective client’s site will be inspected, and instructions given on how to prepare the land following which the client is given seedlings. The seedlings, technical advice and fertilizer are given free of charge.

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