Over the past couple of months, I have been meeting with the leadership of a number of agencies and branches associated with the Ministry as well as with stakeholders to get a better understanding as to where we are at. During my meeting at the Export Division some three weeks ago, I made a commitment to plant some 150 acres of ginger and 350 acres ofturmeric this year. Today, we meet to advance that commitment, as we start the process to expand production of these spices.
Ginger and turmeric are members of the same plant family and are adaptable to a range of Jamaican soils and ecological conditions making them technically suitable for commercial development. We recognize the potential in terms of earning from these spices and this is why we are embarking on a drive to increase production. In fact, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has been providing support for ginger cultivation over the last three years and now that initiative has been expanded to include turmeric.
EXPANSION OF GINGER
Ginger is among the fastest growing spices in international trade, and with Jamaican ginger among the world’s best, presents an opportunity to expand local production to capitalize on the increasing demand. Since 2001, global ginger imports have increased from 276,000mt valued at USD172 million to 423,000mt valued at USD614 million. Jamaican ginger, which is positioned in niche markets, is estimated to have global demand of about 21,000mt of fresh or 4,200mt of dried ginger, which is less than four percent of global trade.
This national short-term production target of 21,000mt of fresh ginger requires approximately 3,000 cultivated acres, at the improved yield target of 7.0mt/acre. With the local ginger industry currently characterized by small farmers, this is also an opportunity to double the current average ginger farm-size form 0.25acre to 0.5acre and engage about 6,000 farmers in open field-ginger cultivation. Additionally, this scale of operation would require disease-free ginger plating material of about 2,700mt per year.
Despite the local and international market opportunities for Jamaican ginger, production declined from some 900mt per year during the 1990’s to 298mt in 2008, largely due to the impact of two major plant diseases – Bacterial wilt and rhizome rot. Over the last three years, The Ministry has intervened in the industry by providing grant funding to improve crop husbandry, strengthen extension services, guarantee markets and retain remunerative and efficient farm-gate prices.
These interventions have reversed the declining production trendwith ginger output increasing by 63% from 298mt (dried weight) during 2008 to 486mt during 2010.It is to be noted, that at this output level, the country is only able to supply 10% of its direct international orders for ginger.
Given the impact of diseases on the industry, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has been evaluating the production of disease-free ginger planting material using a combination of tissue culture, protected environment and hydroponic technologies. These trials have performed credibly and the Ministry is now positioning this approach, in the short to medium-term, as a private investment opportunity to sustainably supply the industry with disease-free ginger planting material to our initial target of 2,700mt per year.
GINGER DEVELOPMENT PROJECT
The interventions in the ginger industry over the last three years have resulted in encouraging improvements, and on that basis, along with the international market opportunities andemployment and economic potentials of the industry, the Ministry has committed to expand the scope of interventions under a structured Ginger Industry Development Project.
For this year, the ginger industry development project will specifically target three broad activities, viz:
(1) Acreage expansion in areas that have produced ginger with minimal disease impact;
(2) Husbandry improvements in areas that show signs of combating the disease prevalence; and
(3) Commercial production of disease-free ginger planting material using tissue culture, protected environment and hydroponic technologies under public-private partnership.
Some of the objectives of this development project are:
1. To cultivate an additional 150 acres of ginger this year from which an additional 210mt of dried ginger should be produced in 2013 to satisfy the existing orders and lift national supply by at least 43% to 696mt (which we are starting today)
2. Support crop maintenance in selected farming areas to improve yield to at least 7.0mt of fresh ginger per acre
3. Cultivate 10 acres of ginger under protected environment (greenhouse or shade-house) exclusively for planting during 2013.
4. Produce 589mt of disease-free planting material for open filed cultivation in 2013
5. Provide adequate dedicated technical services to the ginger industry through the employment, training and deployment of a cadre of 11 graduates of the College of Agriculture Science and Education.
6. As part of the Government’s employment initiative provide opportunity for the productive employment of about 325 persons at different stages of the production and processing cycle and self-employment for 300 farmers.
Operationally, for the open field component of the project the Ministry has appropriated J$15.1 million, which will be deployed as a 20%-25% grant on cost of production for incremental acreage to be put into ginger cultivationor for improving crop husbandry in selected areas that are struggling to improve yield and minimize disease prevalence.
Under the protected environment cultivation (nursery) component, the Ministry will make J$4.9 million of disease-free ginger planting material, as tissue culture plantlets or first generation rhizomes, available to investors to cultivate for planting material supply in 2013. These facilities can be located on the Ministry’s research stations and managed by the Ministry’s technical personnel under public-private partnership or on private property.
It is noteworthy to say that Salada Foods Jamaican Ltd and P.A. Benjamin Manufacturing Company Ltd have been proactive in approaching the Ministry to commence negotiations towards investing under this public-private initiative. In fact, the scale of their combined investment interest is limited this year only by the availability of “seed” stock. Other individual farmers in St. Mary, St. Catherine and Clarendon are advanced in constructing their shade-houses to commence planting in another three to four weeks. This is a sustainable and remunerative investment opportunity and we welcome other private interests to join us in partnership. Under both components, the Ministry will provide market guarantee by way of legally binding purchase contracts executed through its Export Division. These contracts will be executed on an annual basis for open-field production and over a three year period for investment in protected environment infrastructure. The market is guaranteed for the entire output of the operation or for whatever proportion the investors commits to sell through the Export Division of this Ministry. The overall budget of J$15.1 million for the 2012 ginger project has been approve and funds provided through the Ministry’s Export Division.
Global turmeric trade increased over 2006 to 2008 from 66,000mt to 79,000mt, before declining, under weather influence in the major origin, to 53,000mt in 2010. Correspondingly, prices increased sharply. In general, turmeric trade is increasing and is projected to remain on that trajectory over the short to medium term. In CARICOM about500mt of turmeric valued at USD1.07million (J$91 million) is imported each year. Despite the global and regional demand, only about 75mt of turmeric is harvest and processed from the wild in Jamaica. Wild harvesting is acceptable in some markets. However, with stronger preventive food safety regulations in most target markets, it is prudent for Jamaican turmeric to be cultivated under controlled conditions that can satisfy international market requirements.
Under the Ministry’s 2010 pilot project, Jamaican turmeric was evaluated for its curcumin content, which was in the region of 4%. At that level, Jamaican turmeric assumes a desired price point in the upper tier.
DEVELOPMENT OF TURMERIC
The objectives of the turmeric industry development project are:
1. To cultivate 350 acres under turmeric production during 2012 to produce 3,000mt of fresh turmeric (450mt dried) during 2013
2. Supply domestic turmeric demand and export Jamaican turmeric to CARICOM markets
3. Provide self-employment to about 71 turmeric farmers and employment opportunity to an additional 140 persons at different stages of the production and processing cycle
4. Supply Jamaican spice manufactures with high quality turmeric ingredients that meet international food safety standards.
Operationally, the Ministry will provide 56% of the cost of production of participating farmers as a zero-interest loan secured on crop-lien. The loan amount will be repaid to the Ministry from the sales proceeds of the turmeric produced under the project. The loan amount will cover all inputs and up to 50% of the cost of land preparation. The inputs will be supplied to the farmers directly by the Ministry through its Export Division.
Of the total budget of the project of J$38.5million, the Ministry will provide 16.5million as interest-free loan and J$10million as a grant dedicated to the provision of administrative and technical support. Already we have eleven dedicated extension persons and one consultant on board, which are supported by existing RADA extension officers.
Ladies and gentlemen, in closing, i want to say the Ministry is pulling out all the stops for the expansion and development of the ginger and turmeric industry. We will be allocating in total J$41.6 million to cultivate 510 acres of ginger and turmeric in 2012 to provide self-employment to 371 farmers and employment to 465 workers at different stages of the production cycle and 11 CASE graduates on a fulltime basis. These are gainful employments in economic activities that hold the potential to meaningfully contribute to Jamaica’s agricultural and rural development and lift the country’s export performance.
This outlay is consistent with the Ministry’s policy position to support the development of a remunerative and globally competitive spice industry in Jamaican to include: ginger, turmeric, nutmeg, pimento; some non-traditional spices such as peppers and onion, and exotic spices such as cardamom. I urge you all to buy into these potential filled markets and set your sights on reaping significant rewards.
I thank you.