- The island’s banana sector is on the road to recovery with the first shipment of the produce sent off this week to the United Kingdom, since Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
- The sector is back in the export market in a limited way with the shipment on Wednesday, June 11.
- The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries will continue to support the efforts of the banana farmers to ensure that the sector returns to full production.
Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, says the island’s banana sector is on the road to recovery with the first shipment of the produce sent off this week to the United Kingdom, since Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Minister Clarke says although production and exports are not yet at the level of former years, the sector is back in the export market in a limited way with the shipment on Wednesday, June 11.
Speaking at a Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Open Day in Santa Cruz, St. Elizabeth, on June 12, Minister Clarke said, “we are very pleased with this development as although our bananas are cheaper when compared to those from Latin America, the people from the UK are telling us that the Jamaican bananas are the crème de la crème in terms of taste and quality.”
He said the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries will continue to support the efforts of the banana farmers to ensure that the sector returns to full production and reclaim its position in the banana export business.
Meanwhile, Minister Clarke said the agriculture sector overall has been showing tremendous growth since Hurricane Sandy.
“We have returned to growth…growing by 5 percent, then by 13 percent and in the last quarter, the sector grew by 18 percent. However, even more importantly, the domestic crop sector grew by 20%. The small farmers of this country are leading the way and I want to commend them,” Minister Clarke said.
The Minister said that with growth in the sector comes the added challenge of securing markets for the produce. In that regard, he said, a platform for marketing is being developed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries with a view of exporting to new markets in the Miami area of the United States as well as across Europe.
“Just this week a team from my Ministry visited London and already we have identified markets for sweet potatoes. This year, we produced the most ginger in 25 years and we have secured additional markets for the produce,” Minister Clarke said.
He informed that sugar production is also on the up as this year, with Jamaica producing 150,000 tonnes of the commodity. The projection for next year is set at 175, 000 tonnes, he said.
The Minister also noted that the government is on a drive to revive the Aquaculture sector.
“Jamaica is spending US$105 million annually on the importation of fish products into this country and we are going to put a dent on that. Overall, we are importing over US$1 billion worth of food into the island each year and our mission is to reduce that by producing more to feed ourselves. We cannot be importing a billion and just exporting US$250 million…it is not sustainable,” Minister Clarke said.