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Story Highlights

  • Farmers in western Jamaica are being urged to increase the cultivation of sorrel to supply the processing plant, which opened in Bethel Town, Westmoreland, earlier this year.
  • State Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Luther Buchanan, Mr. Hill said the sorrel factory is only functioning at about 75 per cent of its capacity.
  • The Bethel Town Sorrel Factory was constructed at a cost of $27.8 million with funds from the Jamaica Social Investment Fund’s (JSIF) Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) in partnership with the Bethel Town Sorrel Value Chain Improvement project.

Farmers in western Jamaica are being urged to increase the cultivation of sorrel to supply the processing plant, which opened in Bethel Town, Westmoreland, earlier this year.

The appeal comes from Chairman of the Bethel Town Agricultural Cooperative Society, Ian Hill.

Speaking to JIS News during a tour of the plant on Saturday (December 13), by State Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Luther Buchanan, Mr. Hill said the sorrel factory is only functioning at about 75 per cent of its capacity. He is appealing to farmers in St. James, Westmoreland, Hanover and St. Elizabeth to produce sorrel on a year-round basis instead of just planting for use during the Christmas season.

“Right now, we are processing about 700 pounds (of sorrel) but we can go much further to about 1,000 pounds a week,” he pointed out.

“It (the sorrel processing facility) has been opened since September and we have been producing (bag juice) and sorrel drink and we buy sorrel from farmers in four parishes… to process the sorrel drink…produce sorrel cake and chutney…we are not getting enough sorrel right now,” he noted.

Mr. Hill said once enough sorrel is available, the plant intends to expand production by operating three shifts on a 24-hour basis.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Lenworth Fulton, who was also on the tour, said his organisation will be “wasting no time” in assisting farmers across the island to get into sorrel production to supply the Bethel Town processing plant.

Mr. Fulton told JIS News that RADA extension officers will be undertaking a public education and training programme on best practices in sorrel cultivation.

“Through our extension service we will educate the farmers, we will train them…help them to select the proper varieties and teach them the proper agricultural practices to optimise their production. In this case, we would be guiding the farmers as to the amount of sorrel to grow to support the throughput of this factory …we will also teach inter-cropping sorrel with yams and other things,” he informed.

The Bethel Town Sorrel Factory was constructed at a cost of $27.8 million with funds from the Jamaica Social Investment Fund’s (JSIF) Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) in partnership with the Bethel Town Sorrel Value Chain Improvement project.

JSIF provided $23.2 million of the project cost, with the community contributing $4.6 million through its agricultural cooperative society.

The sorrel bag drink is being sold through local retailers and to schools in western Jamaica.

 

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