KINGSTON — The country is set to gain well-needed foreign exchange from the export of almost 5,000 metric tonnes of fertilizer to the neighbouring country of Cuba, by Newport-Fersan Jamaica Limited, commencing with the first shipment on Friday, October 21.
The second shipment to that country is scheduled to leave Jamaica by the end of next week.
Managing Director, Newport-Fersan Jamaica Limited, Dennis Valdez, said the export initiative represents the company’s first large export of fertilizer and “one of the most important chapters in the history of Newport-Fersan."
Mr. Valdez was speaking at a ship-loading ceremony and tour at the company’s Newport East facility in Kingston on Thursday (October 20).
“This shipment consists of 99 bags of fertilizer, which will be used to fertilize the lands of our neigbouring republic of Cuba. This is a pure Jamaican product being exported, which has successfully competed with all our suppliers in the region, in terms of quality, delivery time and price,” he said.
“This single operation will represent significant earnings in foreign exchange to the financial sector of Jamaica, as well as additional employment and revenue,” Mr. Valdez informed.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Robert Montague, said the export initiative is a positive move for Jamaica and the economy.
“It is always good when a Jamaican company can be exporting its products, because normally it’s the other way around. It is good to know that within our Caribbean region, Jamaica is now expanding and spreading her wings far and wide,” he noted.
Mr. Montague expressed appreciation to the National Export Import Bank (EXIM) of Jamaica, which facilitated the initiative through its Cuban Line of Credit.
The Bank offers a Line of Credit of CAN $12 million through Banco Nacional de Cuba to facilitate the importation of Jamaican goods into Cuba.
“We would not have had this day without the efforts and hard work of the officers of the EXIM Bank of Jamaica and I really would like to place on record my appreciation for the work they have done,” he said.
“The line of credit that is in existence is not enough, they will agree, because Fersan will be using CAN$3 million for this shipment and as the expansion and the growth in Cuba pick up, they are going to be in need of more fertilizer,” he noted.
The Minister argued that the prospect of more exports of fertilizer into Cuba translates into more employment in Jamaica and more tax revenue for the government.
“I know this will be the first of many shipments, and the Jamaica Manufacturers Association, I’m sure, will be exploring other items to go into the Cuban market and to go into the rest of the Caribbean,” he said.
Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, lauded the contribution of Newport-Fersan to the Jamaican agricultural industry, and now to the export sector.
“This is an indication that there is potential to be exploited and the government wants to be a partner in that respect,” he said.
In meantime, Mr. Valdez further informed that Newport-Fersan Jamaica Limited, which was established in 2004, provides direct employment to hundreds of Jamaicans within the neighbouring areas of Tivoli Gardens and the downtown district.
“Our contribution to the tax revenue system has been substantial with over $550 million, whilst the majority of our revenue has remained in the local financial system,” he said.
He noted that this represents a true demonstration of loyalty, commitment and faith in Jamaica and the future of agriculture.
Since the beginning of its operations, Newport-Fersan has played an important role in the development of the agricultural sector. The company focuses on the supply of premium quality fertilizers, promotes research and development in the sector, including soil and leaf analysis, as well as promotes rice redevelopment.
It also plays host to a number of seminars and demonstrations as part of a technology transfer initiative for important entities, such as the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS).
By Athaliah Reynolds, JIS Reporter