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Story Highlights

  • The Government’s agro-park programme is being maximized to enhance Jamaica’s global competitiveness in the production and exportation of non-traditional produce.
  • He says the move to this end includes Global GAP certification of the nine agro-parks currently in operation.
  • GAP is an acronym for Good Agricultural Practice (GAP), and Global GAP, as an international organization, is the worldwide standard that assures this.

Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon Derrick Kellier, says the Government’s agro-park programme is being maximized to enhance Jamaica’s global competitiveness in the production and exportation of non-traditional produce.

He says the move to this end includes Global GAP certification of the nine agro-parks currently in operation.

GAP is an acronym for Good Agricultural Practice (GAP), and Global GAP, as an international organization, is the worldwide standard that assures this.

It sets voluntary standards for the certification of agricultural products, with the objective of ensuring safe and sustainable agricultural activities worldwide, through harmonization of comparative certification standards between suppliers and buyers.

Speaking at the Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA) breakfast forum at the organization’s Winchester Road head office in Kingston, on March 31, Mr. Kellier noted that there is strong and growing global demand for non-traditional Jamaican agricultural produce, such as sweet potatoes and mangoes, in traditional North American and European markets.

“As a result of our strong brand name and the high quality and flavours of our produce, the market is demanding more and more of things Jamaican,” he said.

However, the Minister said despite this, and the “significant potential” which the non-traditional export trade presents for Jamaica, “we have not, as yet, taken the same structured approach in marketing these commodities, as obtained for the traditional commodities (such as banana, cocoa, coffee, and sugar).”

“The challenge we have had in sustaining these markets is that of consistency of supply, certification, and the use of middlemen on both sides of the export-import trade, rather than direct marketing relationships, which would actually render our produce more competitive,” he argued.

Mr. Kellier said the agro-parks programme is targeting approximately 20,000 acres of production, over the next five years.

“Our aim is to utilize these parks to ensure that the scale of production is optimized, in order to be competitive and consistent (in non-traditional crops),” he added.

Mr. Kellier said along with Global GAP certification of the parks, “we will superimpose on that, the strong marketing and extension support that we have.”

Targeted non-traditional products include sweet potatoes,  both the traditional  and new varieties, new varieties of melon, mangoes, such as East Indian, St. Julian, and Number Eleven; oranges, and pineapples,” he informed, adding that “we have secured market access to Trinidad (and Tobago) for dasheen and peppers, and we are currently pursuing the same with Barbados and Antigua (and Barbuda).”

The Minister spoke on the theme: ‘Building Export Markets in the Agro-Industry’.