First Crop of Rice under Amity Hall Project Being Reaped


Jamaica is currently in the middle of reaping its first crop of rice grown under the Amity Hall Rice Project in St. Catherine.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, and stakeholders in the sector were invited to the farm on July 6, for a tour of the facilities and to sample the first of the crop in a tasty meal of rice/rice and peas with curried goat and rotisserie chicken.
The variety planted under the project is the Prosequisa Four from the Dominican Republic. This is a high-yielding variety, which ratoons similarly to the sugar cane. Project Manager, Richard Sadler, explained that the Prosequisa Four could be harvested up to four times before being replanted.
The 25-acre rice field was planted in January under a project spearheaded by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in collaboration with the Jamaica Broilers Group. The current crop is expected to yield approximately six tonnes per hectare, which is comparable to yields in rice-growing countries like Guyana.
The project was undertaken following spiralling prices of grains on the world market last year. It aims to find economically viable ways of producing rice for local consumption and reduce reliance on imports.
However, Dr. Tufton said that while the prices of grains have since gone down on the world market, the Government is still committed to rice cultivation to ensure food security. “Our mission towards food security cannot just be about accessing cheap foods. It has to be about sustainable foods,” he said.
Currently, Jamaica imports all of the 100,000 tonnes of rice consumed annually. Dr. Tufton is aiming to locally produce at least 30 per cent of Jamaica’s rice consumption needs within the next three years.
“Over the next year, it is our intention to put another 200 hectares of rice into production,” he told the gathering this morning. Dr. Tufton disclosed that the Ministry is also currently in the process of training farmers interested in going into rice production.
“We have already recruited some 70 farmers from the traditional rice-growing areas. We are starting to do an assessment of rice-growing areas and we intend to carry on to the next phase, where we provide them with the materials and best practices,” he informed.
Regional Co-ordinator for the Caribbean Rice Association, Azim Hosein, pointed out the importance of quality seeds to successful rice cultivation and said the next step must be the setting up of a seed project.
He also recommended the establishment of a local rice growers’ association.

JIS Social