- Jamaica is one of five Caribbean countries where the $1.92 billion (CAD$20 million) project is being implemented by the World University Service of Canada (WUSC). The others are Barbados, Dominica, Guyana, and St. Lucia.
- PROPEL’s Project Coordinator in Jamaica, Alvin Murray, said a total of 5,000 farmers in Jamaica are being targeted for assistance under the initiative, which ends in 2018.
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The Government is seeking to identify mined out bauxite lands ideally suited for farming and the provision of irrigation water.
This was disclosed by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, who says this forms part of initiatives being undertaken to assist farmers in further boosting crop production.
“We are going to be working with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) to identify those areas that have good (mined out) lands (which have been restored and) can go into production…and to assist farmers who want to use some of these lands, to access them,” Mr. Hutchinson said.
Key to the success of this undertaking, he stated, is the provision of water for irrigation, particularly in areas where this is scarce.
“Water harvesting is where we want to go. We want to see if we can get some of these mined out lands (installed) with pond liners (to enable the storage of water) that can be provided to the farmers (who do not have an adequate and consistent supply),” he stated.
Mr. Hutchinson said these engagements are among several initiatives being explored to drive further growth within the agricultural sector over the next two years.
The Minister was speaking with JIS News following Wednesday’s (May 18) tour of several farms in Manchester that have received support under the Government of Canada-funded Promotion of Regional Opportunities through Enterprise and Linkages (PROPEL) project.
In noting that the agricultural sector has the potential to fill local consumption demand, Mr. Hutchinson said the Ministry will be focusing on further boosting the outputs for a number of crops. Chief among these are Irish potatoes and onions.
“We are only producing 25 per cent of the onions for local consumption…and roughly 90 per cent of the Irish potatoes. So, we are looking, this year, to increase (the output) to 40 per cent for onions, and to see if we can get to 100 per cent for Irish potatoes,” he stated, adding that other crops such as ginger, peppers and turmeric are also being targeted.
Mr. Hutchinson said the Ministry was looking at facilitating the introduction of organic farming islandwide.
“We have an area in St. Elizabeth where we are looking to cultivate 10-acres of onions. We are working to see if we can…incorporate organic farming in as much of the agricultural production as is possible,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mr. Hutchinson has welcomed the support being provided to farmers under PROPEL.
Jamaica is one of five Caribbean countries where the $1.92 billion (CAD$20 million) project is being implemented by the World University Service of Canada (WUSC). The others are Barbados, Dominica, Guyana, and St. Lucia.
The five-year project, which started in 2013, targets the provision of resources and technical support to small and medium scale producers in order to boost agricultural outputs. Assistance is also being provided to establish market linkages.
Mr Hutchinson was given a demonstration of a mechanical harvester, and shown micro greenhouse technology applications, which are among the innovations introduced under PROPEL.
“I would like to congratulate all who have been involved in these initiatives…which are going to cut down on the cost of production when fully implemented. We are going to see how best we can expand on these and other inputs,” he said.
PROPEL’s Project Coordinator in Jamaica, Alvin Murray, said a total of 5,000 farmers in Jamaica are being targeted for assistance under the initiative, which ends in 2018.