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Local interests are being encouraged to capitalise on the global market for hot pepper, which is being bolstered by the demand for hot and spicy ethnic foods.
Associate at the United States-based On the Frontier Group (OTF), Lisa Lake, in her address at an agriculture forum held recently at the Terra Nova Hotel, said that world demand for pepper and pepper products was trending upwards.
“Between 1998 and 2002, annual world growth in export quantity of fresh hot peppers was 26 per cent,” she informed.
Miss Lake said that 77 per cent of international buyers, who responded to a survey conducted by the OTF, said they would like to increase their import volumes, while 20 per cent were interested in entering or re-entering the scotch bonnet market.
She noted further, that more overseas buyers would import Jamaican scotch bonnet pepper if they were aware of the product, and called for greater attention to be placed on the marketing of the product.
She suggested that attention could also be placed on producing ground and dried peppers, which was not only highly profitable, but would nullify concerns regarding quality as it related to colour, sheen and blemishes.
The production of scotch bonnet pepper, Miss Lake noted further, presented a clear profitable alternative to sugar cane production.
Citing statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture and the Sugar Industry Research Institute, she pointed out that whereas 1 hectare of cane could generate a profit of only $57,785 per crop, scotch bonnet and its derivatives could generate as much as $484,575 per crop.
On the Frontier Group is a research competitiveness advisory firm, which was hired by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) to look into the competitiveness of Jamaica’s agriculture.