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Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, has urged farmers engaged in exports to consider cultivating crops, which will not need chemical treatment to preserve them for their target markets.

This call comes against the background of what he says is opposition by the United States to the chemical used to treat yams being exported to that country, particularly where the staple requires dissecting prior to packaging.

Addressing the  Christiana Potato Growers’ Co-operative’s immersion technology training workshop, in Manchester, last week, Mr. Clarke advised that the United States authorities had rejected the use of the chemical, saying that it has “too much residue” remaining after application.

He informed that the alternative they have proposed does not adequately preserve the yam against spoilage, hence the need to identify another option that is mutually acceptable.

The Minister said that while this is being explored, another alternative which could be considered is cultivating crops that do not require chemical treatment for preservation, citing the mini set yam as an example.

“One of the things that we have always tried to do, over time, is to grow the mini set yam, which does not have to be cut. (With) the mini set yam, you just cut off the bulb and you export it untouched,” he explained.

Mr. Clarke said a similar situation obtains for pumpkin, pointing out that the Ministry had developed the Bodles Globe, which is a small pumpkin that does not need to be cut.

The Minister lamented, however, that some farmers are not predisposed to cultivating these varieties as they are deemed smaller in size than the regular crops. As such, he said farmers intent on sticking to the traditional varieties are unlikely to be able to engage in meaningful and profitable export of those crops, unless they give consideration to peeling and vacuum packaging, within the context of developments regarding the chemical application.

The Co-operative’s immersion technology project, which has been endorsed by the Ministry, aims to improve the productivity and production levels of root crops, thereby advancing development of a cluster for these, and increasing the farmers’ incomes.

 

By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter