JIS News

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, has said that the Ministry is ready to assist farmers who wish to grow rice by identifying suitable land, technical support and machinery, once the current pilot project proves that viable yields are possible without burdening consumers by passing on undue costs.
“Jamaicans consume some 100,000 tonnes of imported rice annually, and my goal is to have at least 10 per cent of this produced locally to start, and increasing that amount to 25 per cent over the next 3 years,” he said, during a tour of the Ministry/ Jamaica Broilers’ joint rice trial plot, at Amity Hall in St Catherine, on May 1.
The Ministry, in partnership with Jamaica Broilers, established the 25-acre rice plot in Amity Hall in January of this year, to test the Prosequisa IV variety of rice from the Dominican Republic.
“The rice was planted using dry conditions, which have lower outlay costs. Wet planting, the alternative, is more complex and expensive,” said Project Manager, Richard Saddler.
Four weeks away from reaping, project principals report that the paddy is growing well and that they are expecting good yields. “We expect to get two tonnes of polished rice per acre per crop, which is a very good figure,” Mr. Saddler further added.
Head of the Ministry’s Agricultural Support Services Project (ASSP), Hershell Brown, said the Amity Hall pilot project has provided data on production costs and viability, which are to be converted into investment profiles for distribution, as a part of the Ministry’s new investment thrust. “Other necessary tests to the paddy, including palatability, have already been done at the Bodles Research Station,” he added.
Mr. Brown also informed JIS news that 1,000 acres of land at Amity Hall is to be made available to prospective rice investors, through lease arrangements for plots of 10 acres or more.
President of Jamaica Broilers, Christopher Levy, said once the crop flowers in another four weeks, seeds will be available for small farmers. “The variety that we have chosen is very efficient, as it ratoons like the sugarcane. When it is cut, the root is left in the ground and two more crops can be reaped before replanting becomes necessary,” he pointed out. He further stated that reaping could be done with a walk-behind mechanical harvester.
Managing Director of the Jamaica Flour Mills, Derrick Nembhard, informed that the plant at Rockfort in Kingston, had the capacity to process rice. He said that processing facilities have been in place since International Rice and Comet Rice were involved in rice growing in Jamaica, in the 1980s. He said they pulled out because they were American corporations and could not compete with CARICOM producers, and not because rice could not be profitably grown in Jamaica.
Mr. Nembhard said that the new thrust to produce rice for local consumption and reduce reliance on exports showed very good prospects for long-term lucrative investments.

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