The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries will be placing renewed focus on increasing cassava cultivation.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, said the move forms part of the thrust to promote food security within the island and ultimately reduce the country’s food import bill.
“I want to commit the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and the Ministry of Agriculture to do whatever we can in making that move go forward with urgency,” he stated.
The Minister was speaking on Wednesday, May 29, at the launch of the book: ‘Celebrating the Culinary Wonders of Cassava’ at the University of Technology’s (UTech) Old Hope Road premises in St. Andrew.
He noted that already, the Ministry has partnered with local manufacturer, Red Stripe, for the use of cassava in the brewing of beer.
“Red Stripe says they want cassava to substitute for the hops that they put in their beers…so we soon will be drinking cassava…we are trying to work out the pricing arrangement to enable us to get our farmers into production,” he stated.
Minister Clarke congratulated the authors of the book, noting that it is an important step in increasing consumer education and awareness about cassava and its uses, and marketing the produce to appeal to the palette of consumers.
He said that numerous attempts have been made to promote the use of cassava locally; however, these efforts have been unsuccessful as, among other things, they “did not have the underpinnings of a proper marketing arrangement”.
“One of the difficulties we face in introducing local foods to our people is the way it’s presented and glancing through your book, it makes it so attractive to have cassava and therefore I am fully on board… and we are going to be working (assiduously)…because we are going to be producing cassava,” he stated.
Co-author of the book, Janeen McNish, informed that the publication contains 49 recipes from Jamaica and other Caribbean islands, which showcase the versatility of cassava.
“The primary goal of creating this recipe book…is therefore to promote local and regional consumption of cassava and its value-added products,” she said.
She informed that the publication was made possible through the sponsorship of the European Union Common Fund for Commodities and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) under its ‘Increasing Food Production of Roots and Tubers in the Caribbean’ project.
Ms. McNish, who is also a lecturer at the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at UTech, noted that the recipes include appetisers, entrees, side dishes, desserts and snacks, adding that nutritional analyses of all the recipes have been conducted.
In the meantime, Mr. Clarke informed that the Ministry will be collaborating with several tertiary institutions to formulate a joint research programme to address critical challenges in the agricultural sector.
The institutions are: University of the West Indies (UWI); University of Technology (UTech); Northern Caribbean University (NCU), and the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE).
Contact: Chris Patterson