JIS News

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, through its Export Division, is undertaking a spice development programme, which will target a number of spice crops for expansion and export.
“Jamaica has a reputation for quality spices and we are trying to develop a spice industry,” said General Manager of the Export Division, Sylburn Thomas.He told JIS News that the initiative is “fairly rudimentary at this stage, but we are trying to utilise our local genetic resources to develop spices (such as) nutmeg, ginger, pimento, turmeric and cinnamon in the first instance.”
“We are now getting the right planting material to introduce to the farmers, doing site selection in the right geographic locations and, over time, the processing facilities,” he added.
Currently, assistance is being provided for farmers to increase the production of ginger, including technical demonstrations, training, as well as economic incentives to expand output.
“We are also looking at a nursery programme in which we supply clean, disease-free planting material to the industry so we can combat the ginger rhizome rot disease,” Mr. Thomas informed.
He said the Government is providing funding for the research and commercial production of the planting material, which will then be sold to the farmers at a subsidised rate.
In addition, the Export Division is in discussion with suppliers to set up a centralised processing facility for ginger, including a steam distillation plant as well as a slicing machine.
“We are also looking at washers and a steam dryer so that way, we can maintain the quality and integrity of the product and generate greater value for the farmers in the country,” Mr. Thomas said.
He noted that the Jamaican ginger is known globally and while some of the largest spice manufacturers in the United States, Europe and Japan are familiar with the product, “markets in Japan, India, United Kingdom and Germany seem to have a greater preference for the Jamaican ginger.”
Meanwhile, a centralised processing facility will also be developed for the turmeric market in Jamaica. Currently, turmeric is grown in St. Elizabeth, Hanover,St. James, St. Thomas and Portland.The Ministry of Agriculture is also setting up a nursery facility for nutmeg in St. Mary, which currently has 7,000 plants.