Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, says that his Ministry will spend $159 million, this year, on post harvest care and support facilities for farmers.
Dr. Tufton said that the project will address one of the greatest challenges facing the sector today, waste and losses after reaping, which amount to as much as some 40% of total annual production.
“There is a fear, on our part, that as production increases we will have to find ways to store some of that production, so that it will not go to waste through inadequate storage and imperfect distribution,” he explained.
Dr. Tufton was speaking on Saturday (August 1) at the Annual Denbigh Agricultural Show in Clarendon.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton (right), presenting Champion Farmer, Errol Pinkney, with his winning trophy at the Denbigh Agricultural Show, Clarendon, on Saturday (August 1). Looking on at left is newly elected President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Glendon Harris.
He stated that a critical element of the productivity process hinges on the extent to which Jamaica has the capacity to provide adequate and efficient post-harvest care. This includes, reaping, warehousing or storage, grading and sorting, value-added processing, marketing and distribution.
He said that this fiscal year (2009-2010), his Ministry intends to: establish a unit to address the development of post- harvest infrastructure; establish five wholesale market facilities for handling and selling produce and livestock, with cold storage, water, shelter, toilets, scales and simple display areas for commercial activities. The infrastructure will cost the Government approximately $20 million.
In addition, the Ministry will install cold storage facilities at Montpelier, St. James; Moneague, St. Ann; Denbigh, Clarendon; Newmarket, St. Elizabeth; White River, St. Mary; Wait-A-Bit, Christiana Manchester; Southfield and Hounslow, St. Elizabeth, where primary producers will be able to store excess capacity. So far, there are 160,000 lbs pounds of Irish potatoes in storage in Christiana.
“Additionally, we will establish two banana ripening houses in Maroon Town in St. James and Trinity in St. Mary, at a cost of J$1.4 million. These facilities will be leased to farmers’ organisations to administer on behalf of their members,” Dr. Tufton told the crowd.
“We will upgrade the AMC complex on Spanish Town Road in Kingston, including the repair of the cold storage facilities at a cost of $10 million,” he added.
He said that the Ministry will also construct two post-harvest processing and packaging facilities in St. Elizabeth and Manchester. These facilities will be leased to private entities and will be engaged in grading, sorting, packaging, storage and logistics management, including transportation, as well as the marketing of agricultural produce. This is expected to cost about $50 million.
“We will construct three pepper mash facilities in the parishes of Clarendon, St. Elizabeth and St. Mary, at an estimated cost of $80 million. These facilities will support the Government’s major pepper expansion programme through the processing of hot peppers for the condiments market, he said.
The Ministry also intends to complete construction of a yam packaging house in Trelawny, at a cost of $15 million. This is scheduled to be completed by September 2009, and leased as a buying and packaging house for yam farmers in Trelawny, Manchester and Clarendon.
“These projects are public/private sector partnerships that will help our farmers to grow better produce and our consumers to get better value for money,” he said.
Dr. Tufton also welcomed Minister for District Administration, Works and Gender Affairs in the Cayman Islands, Hon. Juliana O’Connor-Connolly and other members of overseas delegations attending Denbigh. He also made presentations to champion farmer, Errol Pinkney; junior champion farmer, 19-year old Rahim Baccas; and national farm queen Odean Bradshaw.