JIS News

The district of Top Alston, in North West Clarendon, was abuzz with activity on Labour Day (May 25), as scores of persons turned out to participate in a ginger tissue culture project, one of six activities selected by the National Labour Day Committee for national focus.
Situated in a prime ginger producing area, represented by Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce and Member of Parliament, Hon. Michael Stern, the project is geared at reviving an industry which has suffered a serious setback in recent times, due to an infestation of pathogens and nematodes, resulting in a high incidence of spoilage.
Mr. Stern advised JIS News that a primary focus of the initiative is eliminating this spoilage through the propagation of disease-free planting material in a greenhouse environment, which should significantly increase the average yield, translating into economic wealth for the farmers.
“The ginger that we are planting is not the regular ginger, it is a ginger that is grown in the greenhouse. This ginger that we grow in the greenhouse is yielding ten times what the other ginger used to yield,” he pointed out.
“We don’t have any spoilage and because of the high yields and a good price, there is greater income for the farmers,” Mr. Stern said.
He outlined that a company had been formed, and a management committee established, which would direct and monitor the project, ensuring its sustainability.
“We have a company that was formed here in the community. It’s owned by the community. We lease this property from the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), and we are going to work with them through the Scientific Research Council, the Christiana Potato Co-op and RADA. All of these people sit on the Board of the company, and they will make sure that this will produce planting material for the farmers, that is cleaner and cheaper,” Mr. Stern explained.
“A lot of people want to plant ginger, because they can make a lot of money from ginger, but what they need to understand is that the preparation is important,” he added.
Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, who visited the project site, along with Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding, informed JIS News that the project is in keeping with the Government’s on-going effort at ensuring national food security.
“The Government is again re-emphasising the need for food security. To look at all the potential we have in terms of our respective crops. Some have not done well in recent times, and we’re trying to bring them back, as is the case here with ginger, which was plagued by disease. We are now using tissue culture to get a different strain, a disease-free strain,” he pointed out
The SRC, the Christiana Potato Growers Co-operative, RADA and the Bio-technology Centre of the University of the West Indies, will provide technical support to the farmers.
This disease-free strain of ginger, propagated through the use of tissue culture in a greenhouse environment, is expected to increase in yield by some 60 to 80 per cent.

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