JIS News

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is reporting a 22.3 per cent increase in domestic food crop production for the second quarter of 2009, compared to the similar period last year.
At a press conference, held at the Ministry on Old Hope Road, in Kingston, today (July 21), Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, said the recovery and strong growth of production that started at the end of 2008, has continued and is showing increased momentum.
He said the last three quarters saw consecutive periods of expansion when compared to similar periods last year, with 14.4 per cent in the December quarter, 16 per cent in the March quarter and 22.3 per cent for the last quarter.
All of the major crop groups showed increased production, with potatoes registering the most significant increase of 69.6 per cent. Dr. Tufton credits the Ministry’s Production and Productivity Programme for the increase.
“We identified a range of critical crops, we identified a critical mass of farmers and we developed a programme that saw best practices being promoted among this critical farmer core, from the preparation of the soil straight through to post-harvest management. We are now seeing the returns on that particular activity,” he pointed out.
Under the programme, specific crops such as onions, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and cabbage saw increases ranging from a high of 228 per cent to 9.2 per cent, when compared to the second quarter of last year.
All parishes recorded increases in production over the similar period last year, with a high of 71.9 per cent in St Ann, where production moved from 6,205 tonnes to 10,665 tonnes. Manchester saw the largest increase in terms of volume, with an increase of 6,891 tonnes, representing a 36.5 per cent growth over the second quarter of last year.
The improvement in figures for both parishes has been credited to increases in the production of potatoes.
Dr. Tufton noted that although St. Elizabeth suffered crop loss due to infestation of the beet army worm, the parish still made the greatest contribution to the total domestic crop production, contributing 23.8 per cent to the island wide production.
He said that the Ministry is satisfied with the pace of expansion. “We are satisfied that our farmers are making the effort. We are relatively satisfied that our technical support that we are providing, is now showing signs of impact,” he added, while conceding that more work needs to be done to get consumers to support local produce.

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