JIS News

The Jamaica Trade and Invest (JTI) is inviting investment in West Indian Sea Island Cotton, which has the potential to earn millions in foreign currency on a yearly basis.
According to Executive Director in the Markets Division at the JTI, Kirk Kennedy, the industry “is open, ripe and ready for investment”.
Mr. Kennedy, who was addressing an investment promotion seminar today (Aug. 13) at JTI’s offices on Trafalgar Road in Kingston, pointed out that with agriculture recording real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 16 per cent last year, there is significant potential for West Indian Sea Island cotton within the non-traditional export sector.
“Agriculture had a very positive year in 2006. I think it is fair to say that the million dollar business of West Indian Sea Island cotton has a place in the seven per cent increase that was recorded in our non-traditional export. and this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of our immediate potential,” he stated.
President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Senator Norman Grant, also noted that there are significant opportunities to be gained from investment in the crop.
“The market is there, the land is available and the farmers are ready and available to participate actively in the growing and cultivation of this product. there is a lot of money to be made,” he said.
According to Senator Grant, West Indian Sea Island cotton is sold at US$10 per pound of lint with export markets in the United States, Switzerland and Japan.
The current demand for cotton, he informed, is estimated at three million tonnes per year with Japan alone demanding more than two million tonnes, which is significantly more than current production levels.
“We want to put back West Indian Sea Island cotton on the map to be one of those niche markets that we will develop to help grow the Jamaican economy and improve the livelihood of our farmers.and we want them (investors) to take charge of this tremendous industry,” he stated.
The JAS President also sought to assure potential investors that adequate measures have been implemented by the Government to protect the crop from praedial thieves.
“The police have stepped up their efforts to arrest those that continue to carry produce without demonstrating that they are in legitimate possession of agricultural items. and over the last six months, we have saved the sector some $100 million,” he informed.
He pointed out further that “the product is very difficult to steal, it is labour intensive and by the time you try and pick a reasonable amount, somebody will be there to really catch up with you.”
West Indian Sea Island cotton is the world’s highest quality cotton and is grown only in a few Caribbean islands such as Jamaica, Barbados, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos and St. Kitts.
Jamaica in the only island within the English-speaking Caribbean that is capable of producing West Indian Sea Island cotton on a large scale without seriously affecting present agro-production balances in food distribution lines.
There are about 17 farmers growing West Indian Sea Island cotton in the parishes of Clarendon, St. Catherine, Portland and St. Mary.

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