Ministry of Agriculture Dealing with Post-Harvesting Issues


The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries will be instituting a number of post-harvesting measures this year, to help farmers grow better produce and ensure that consumers get more value for their money.
As a first step, a unit will be established in the Ministry to deal with the development of post-harvest infrastructure.
Five wholesale market facilities will be introduced, at a cost of $20 million, to handle and sell produce and livestock. These will have facilities for cold storage, water, shelter, toilets, and display areas for commercial activities, Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, told the House of Representatives Tuesday (July 7) as he contributed to the 2009/10 Sectoral Debate.
“We have a challenge, and this is an important area that we have to focus on, in the interest of our farmers. Our farmers are producing a lot, and what we cannot afford, as has been the case in the past, is to allow our farmers to produce and there’s no post-harvest management for their produce,” he said.
Cold storage facilities will also be established at: Montpelier, St. James; Denbigh, Clarendon; New Market, St. Elizabeth; Moneague and White River, St. Ann; Christiana, Manchester; Southfield, St. Elizabeth; Wait-A-Bit, Trelawny; and Hounslow, St. Elizabeth.
These facilities will allow farmers to store excess produce and reduce losses, he said.
Noting that there are 160,000 lbs of Irish potatoes in storage at the Christiana Potato Growers Association facility, Dr. Tufton said this was a record year for Irish potato farmers with over one million pounds of the produce grown.
Banana ripening houses will be established in Maroon Town, St. James and Trinity, St. Mary, at a cost of $1.4 million. These facilities will be leased to private farmers’ organisations on behalf of their farmers, he said.
Dr. Tufton also said that the AMC complex on Spanish Town Road will be upgraded and cold storage facilities repaired, at a cost of $10 million.
“The AMC used to be a buzz of activity, where farmers could take their produce…the AMC was a good idea…the problem with the AMC was that there was poor management. We are going to ensure that that complex works, but its going to be managed primarily by the private sector,” he noted.
Two post-harvest processing and packaging facilities will be set up in St. Elizabeth and Manchester, at a cost of $50 million, as part of a Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)/GOJ programme. These facilities will support post-harvest care, including grading, sorting, packaging, storage and logistics management.
Additionally, three pepper mash facilities are to be constructed in Clarendon, St. Elizabeth and St. Mary at a cost of $80 million.
“Opportunities in hot pepper are just too much to ignore our Scotch Bonnet and West Indian Red. We are major producers of the best quality hot peppers in the world, and we should not be importing it to make hot pepper sauce or anything else. So, we are putting the infrastructure in place to address the increase in production,” he said.
He noted that 16 pepper nurseries have been established across the island and leased to farmers. The mash facilities will now be able to buy these peppers for agro-processing for local sale and export.
This year, the construction of a yam packaging house in Trelawny will be completed at a cost of $15 million. This is projected for completion by September, and is to be leased as a buying and packaging house for yam farmers in Trelawny, Manchester and Clarendon.

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