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The Ministry of Agriculture, through its Agricultural Support Services Project (ASSP), will be establishing 11 pepper nurseries across the country, to help farmers increase production and satisfy the increasing demand for the product.
This announcement was made by Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, as he addressed a large group of farmers in Albert Town, Trelawny, during a tour of sections of the parish last week.
The nurseries, one of which is to be established in South Trelawny, at a cost of approximately $800,000.00, will each have the capacity to produce seedlings to cover 50 acres of land.
“Government has taken the decision to improve the production of pepper in Jamaica and has already signed a contract, which will see the establishment of 11 pepper nurseries across the country, to be managed by local farmers. The seedlings will then be distributed at a minimal cost to farmers, wherever they are, who want to engage in pepper production. These peppers would then be sold, either on the local market or in the agro-processing market, to support the many brands of hot pepper sauces that we have in Jamaica,” Dr. Tufton told the farmers.
He noted that while the ASSP would provide the capital to establish the physical plant, the operations would be managed by local farmers. Dr. Tufton also indicated that the Ministry had already identified several buyers for the product, who were willing to enter into long-term contracts with interested farmers.
The Minister also announced that the Government would be seeking to foster partnerships among farmers, by promoting co-operative farming opportunities. To this effect, Dr. Tufton noted that Producers Marketing Organisations (PMO), were being revived across the island.
“We are going to be allocating, in a matter of weeks, an amount of $2.5 million to the PMO members in Trelawny, which are the farmers’ groups that are registered with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA). This allocation will be part of a national programme of $25 million to farmers across Jamaica, to be used as subsidy for the purchasing of fertiliser, to assist you farmers in the production process,” Dr. Tufton said.
He explained that the money would directly assist each farmer to purchase fertiliser at approximately $2,000.00 less than the regular price of the material.
“Some of that money will also go towards the purchasing of seed material and that will be for the production of certain crops in your areas. By this, Government is providing incentives for farmers in order that production in the country be more visible, to promote and support the ‘eat what we grow, grow what we eat’ drive,” the Minister said.