Agriculture Ministry to Seek Greater Collaboration with Private Sector


Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, has said that he will be seeking greater collaboration with the private sector this year, particularly in setting up proper post-harvesting infrastructure.
Among the areas to be focussed on are reaping, warehousing or storage, grading and sorting, value-added processing, marketing and distribution.
One of the projects he pointed to is the construction of three pepper mash facilities in the parishes of Clarendon, St. Elizabeth and St. Mary, at an estimated cost of $80 million. These facilities are expected to support the Government’s major pepper expansion programme, through the processing of hot peppers for the condiment market.
Speaking at a post-Cabinet press briefing, at the Office of the Prime Minister, on July 8, Dr. Tufton disclosed that the Ministry is currently in discussion with GraceKennedy Limited, which has already shown an interest in leasing and managing one of the facilities.
“They will have to work with farmers who will supply them with the peppers. That will mean the private sector principles of applying the management and also tapping into the markets that they already have,” he said.
Dr. Tufton also said that a yam packaging facility is to be opened in Wait-A-Bit, Trelawny, and the Ministry has already begun inviting applications from private sector entities to manage the facility.
“We will maintain an interest on behalf of the farmers in order to ensure that the farmers’ interests are protected,” he said, adding that, “the Government does not want to be in a position where it is solely responsible for it.”
Other measures which are to be undertaken to improve post-harvesting practices, include the establishment of a unit within the Ministry to address the development of post-harvest infrastructure and five wholesale marketing facilities.
The Ministry also plans to upgrade the Agricultural Marketing Corporation (AMC) complex on Spanish Town Road; construct two Canadian International Development Agency/Government of Jamaica (CIDA/GoJ) sponsored post-harvest processing and packaging facilities in St. Elizabeth and Manchester; establish two banana ripening houses in Maroon Town in St. James and Trinity in St. Mary; and install cold storage facilities at several locations across the island.
While making his contribution to the 2009/10 Sectoral Debate in the House on July 7, Dr. Tufton announced a raft of measures the Ministry would embark on this year, to improve Jamaica’s post-harvesting infrastructure.

JIS Social