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JIS News

A decision on whether Jamaica can begin the growing of rice on a commercial scale is to be made in another six months.
This was disclosed by Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, while on a tour of an experimental plot at the Bodles Research Station in Old Harbour, St. Catherine on Wednesday (Jan. 28).
Dr. Tufton told JIS News that investigations were being carried out on nine plant varieties at the Bodles Research Station, and a preliminary determination would be reported to him, shortly.
“In another three months or so, we will know how viable this is. If it’s not viable, we may not be in a position to promote it. If it is viable, then we will. Once we’re clear on it, certainly within six months, you will see us promoting it among farmers in those critical rice growing areas,” he said.
He explained that investigations will include looking at the traditional growing areas to see what is happening and the preparations on the ground, therefore, discussions will have to be held with various agencies to come to a final position.
“So the experts we have here will have to help develop best practices in that area and we will provide the training for the farmers,” he added.
Dr. Tufton said that help will be coming from several countries within the region, as well as extra regionally.
“We’re looking for the best practices wherever we can find them” he noted. The Minister said that experts will be coming from Guyana, Brazil, China, Africa and the Dominican Republic.
Senior Agronomist in the Ministry of Agriculture based at the Bodles Research Station, Carla Douglas, explained that their main responsibility was to conduct data collection and to determine which variety is the best.
“Once the varieties are ready for harvesting we’ll submit that to our bio-mortician and, guided by the analysis, we’ll be able to determine which variety we would want to recommend to our farmers,” she said.
So far, the Cybonnett sample, a dwarf variety which has the shortest maturing cycle; the Adron 125 and the Prosequisa 4 (which bears at least four times before replanting) are the promising varieties.
She said that it will be another two months before any concrete data will be available, and pointed out that current data was just from one trial.
“As with any research, you’ll have to do repeated trials and then compare data from one trial to the next, so you can come up with the best information,” she noted.
The project has also received private sector attention. Jamaica Broilers, in collaboration with the Ministry, has already earmarked 150 acres of land for production. Twenty-five acres are currently in production, which will aid the Ministry of Agriculture to evaluate the commercial element of the project.
Farmers from the two primary rice growing parishes, Westmoreland and St. Elizabeth, who were in attendance, said they were happy to see the progress being made towards the reintroduction of rice growing in Jamaica.
The varieties of rice being examined are from Guyana, the United States of America and the Dominican Republic.