Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Floyd Green, says the Ministry has established an oversight committee with responsibility for developing a national yam strategy to boost production islandwide.
“We want that committee to chart the future of yam. We are not comfortable with what we are doing now; we can do more, and that oversight committee is developing a yam strategy and we will present that strategy this year,” Mr. Green said.
The Minister was speaking at a meeting with farmers at Albert Town High in South Trelawny, following a tour of farms in the parish on January 22.
Mr. Green explained that the strategy, which is being developed in tandem with stakeholders, including JAMPRO, will chart the future of yam production islandwide.
“This is something that we are doing in consultation with our farmers, with our stakeholders, with exporters, with organisations like JAMPRO, who are looking to see what the international market is asking for,” the Minister said.
He further noted that “yam is one of the most critical, if not the most critical domestic crops,” noting that there is a need to ensure consistent supply, due to the demand.
Mr. Green noted that over the last five years, yam has become number one in domestic crop exports, earning US$24 million in 2019.
“Even though it [yam] is number one, we are still not filling the demand for Jamaican yam with our major trading partners. In fact, we have exporters who are saying to us that they could export 10 containers of yam per week and now they do four to six containers, so there is a tremendous opportunity in relation to yam,” he said.
In that regard, Minister Green said a more strategic approach to yam is needed across the country, “especially in an area like South Trelawny”.
Meanwhile, the Minister noted that under its current Production Incentive Programme, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) has been working with farmers to increase the production of sweet yam.
He also informed that the Ministry is providing technical support for the establishment of a yam association, which will play a role in ensuring the longevity of yam production.