JIS News

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, will over the next three years, be investing some US$8 million in the development of eight agro parks in six parishes across the island.

These are: St. Thomas, St. Catherine, Clarendon, Manchester, St. Elizabeth and Trelawny.

Portfolio Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, in a statement in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (September 18), said the establishment of the parks represents a pragmatic approach to enhancing food security and cutting the country's food import bill.

He said focus will be placed on the production of onions, Irish potato, yam, honey, small ruminants, hot pepper, ginger, turmeric, pineapple, and aquaculture.

"These parks will be fitted with the requisite infrastructure to ensure sustainable production and to enhance post harvest handling, such as irrigation, drainage, storage, and packing house facilities," Mr. Clarke said.

He informed that the Ministry, working with the private sector, has identified clear markets for the goods produced at these parks, while adding that best practices, in terms of crop production, care and handling, will be undertaken.

The agro-parks, he said, will play a significant role in plans by leading premium beverage company Diageo, brewers of Red Stripe Beer, for the production of cassava and sorghum in Jamaica, as a substitute for barley. Caribbean Broilers will also establish some 300 acres of sorghum for manufacturing animal feed.

"The government is supporting all of these private sector initiatives as they will provide employment and advance the cause of import substitution. In this regard, we are working with a major Canadian investor to provide some 500 acres of land to also grow sorghum," Mr. Clarke said.