JIS News

Farmers of the Thetford Co-operative in Old Harbour, St. Catherine, are experiencing more than 100 per cent increase in their production, as a result of the assistance from the Agricultural Support Services Project (ASSP) Fund.
Secretary of the Co-operative, Ewart Blackwood, told JIS News that since the introduction of the ASSP, cucumber production has moved from 22,500 kilograms to 45,000 kilograms; sweet pepper has increased from 3,600 kilograms to 15,750 kilograms; and sweet potato from 4,500 kilograms to 72,000 kilograms.
Two new areas of production are June plum and dasheen, with each recording a production level of some 3,000 kilograms. Only one food crop has recorded a decline, he noted, with okra decreasing from 18,000 kilograms to 9,000 kilograms.
“This decline is due to the overwhelming success of sweet potato, with farmers reducing their acreage of okra from 2.4 hectares to 1.2 hectares in order to plant more sweet potato, which has moved from 0.5 hectare to 7.2 hectares,” Mr. Blackwood said.
The ASSP is administered through the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, and the Fund has been set up to mobilize and manage a pool of capital to be used to enhance the competitiveness of Jamaica’s agriculture in domestic and global markets. Its intervention at the Thetford Co-operative is costing some $7.8 million.
Some 76 per cent or $6 million of the sum has been given as a grant, with the balance provided by the farmers in the Co-operative by way of cost sharing.
Among the objectives to be met with the grant funding are the improvement of access roads to the farms, the purchasing of a tractor and accessories for preparing farm lands, and pest and disease management.