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JIS News

Several parcels of land, suitable for rice farming, have been identified across the island, with adequate water resources in place to carry out the activity.
“However, there will need to be some rehabilitation of the infrastructure, because we have been out of rice farming for quite some time, so we need to rehabilitate what we had before,” said Investment Officer with the Agricultural Support Services Project (ASSP), Oneicka Porter.
She was speaking to JIS News yesterday (Feb.5), during a tour of former rice growing properties at Meylersfield and Shrewsbury in Westmoreland.
The touring party, which consisted of officers from the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and the Agricultural Support Services Project (ASSP), along with Japanese consultants, got a firsthand view of the condition of the lands, which yielded several hundred thousand pounds of rice in the 1970s and 80s.
As the Government continues to look into the viability of re-establishing rice cultivation in the island, Ms. Porter said that the Ministry had garnered international expertise to take an in-depth look at several potential rice growing areas across the island, and to ensure that best practices were adopted when production re-starts.
“The Government is looking at re-developing the rice farming sub-sector, and in an effort to ensure that we conform to best practices in rice production, we sought and obtained technical assistance from the Government of Japan, so an expert is here to conduct an assessment of our infrastructure and to provide us with some guidance in terms of the way forward for the rice farming sub-sector,” she told JIS News.
She explained that focus is being placed on the traditional rice farming areas of the country, which includes areas in Westmoreland and St. Elizabeth.
Several former rice farmers, who were at Meylersfield to welcome the touring party, held discussions with the Japanese consultant following the tour of the property.
The farmers expressed an eagerness to be included in any project, which may lead to the re-introduction of the crop, including the establishment of experimental plots.
Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, while on a tour of an experimental plot at the Bodles Research Station in Old Harbour, St. Catherine in late January, said that a decision on whether Jamaica could begin the growing of rice on a commercial scale would be made in another six months.
He told JIS News that investigations were being carried out on nine plant varieties at Bodles, and a preliminary determination would be reported to him, shortly.
“In another three months or so, we will know how viable this is. If it’s not viable, we may not be in a position to promote it. If it is viable, then we will. Once we’re clear on it, certainly within six months, you will see us promoting it among farmers in the critical rice growing areas,” he stated.