A new local tomato paste is to be introduced to the market soon, as the Government moves to decrease the level of imports of the commodity, says State Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Ian Hayles.
He was addressing the launch of Farmers’ Month, at the downtown Kingston offices of the Jamaica Agricultural Society, on April 4.
"Over the short, medium and long term, we expect a decrease in terms of the level of importation of tomato paste,” Mr. Hayles said, adding that the new tomato paste is as a result of the successful testing of at least four different types of local tomatoes.
In the meantime, Mr. Hayles said that as part of efforts to increase the supply of value-added Jamaican products, an additional 150 acres of ginger are being cultivated this year. From this, he said that 210 metric tonnes more of dried ginger should be produced in 2013 to satisfy the existing orders and increase national supply by 43 per cent or 696 metric tonnes.
"Jamaican ginger, known for its world class flavour profile is positioned in niche markets worldwide, and is estimated to have global demand of about 21,000 metric tonnes of fresh or 4,200 metric tonnes of dried ginger, which is less than four per cent of the global trade. We are only able to supply 10 per cent of direct international orders for ginger,” he said.
The State Minister further informed that there has been increasing demand for turmeric, which is “grown wild here,” noting that 350 acres are currently being planted.
Turning to cocoa, he noted that although production declined last year, there have been signs of improvement.
“Over the last two years, we have rehabilitated nearly 2,000 acres of cocoa, benefiting 520 farmers and providing substantial support to the newly incorporated Cocoa Growers’ Association. We are projecting to produce some 900 metric tonnes of cocoa this year,” he said.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter