KINGSTON — Jamaica has not imported a number of vegetable crops, including lettuce, tomato, cabbage, carrots, and bell peppers, since the start of this year.
Making the disclosure at a press conference on the domestic food crop sector for the first quarter of the year, on May 2, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton pointed out that, “this means that all of those items served by the hotels and everybody else, the origin is from local producers."
The press conference was held at the Ministry’s Old Hope Road offices in Kingston.
Dr. Tufton said the Ministry had been monitoring the demand and supply to ensure that local farmers get preference, in the crop areas where they produce well. “The response from the hoteliers is that the quality of the produce has significantly improved over the past three to four years,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Minister said the Ministry would continue to track and project supply and demand, and based on this data, appropriate arrangements will be made to fill gaps wherever they exist.
“In other words, if there is a need to allow for imports, then we have no difficulty in doing that, because we appreciate the need for consumers to have produce, and for institutions like the hotels to be able to satisfy the demands of their marketplace,” Dr. Tufton said.
However, he noted that the Ministry is taking steps to significantly minimise the need for imports, by putting in place measures such as packaging facilities, and expanding consistent production structures, such as greenhouses.
By ALPHEA SAUNDERS, JIS Reporter