The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries will be expanding turmeric and ginger production as it seeks to expand the island's spice industry.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, made the announcement on February 8 during a tour of the Ministry's Export Division on Marcus Garvey Drive in Kingston.
"We will launch, in two weeks time, a project to put into production, some 350 acres of turmeric and 150 acres of ginger. We will be putting in 10 acres of shade houses to deal with the planting material for the expansion," he stated.
He informed that some 10 extension officers have been engaged as part of that operation.
Turmeric, which is the base for the curry spice, is currently cultivated in the parishes of St. Elizabeth, Hanover, St. James, St. Thomas and Portland. Ginger is mainly grown in Trelawny, Clarendon, Manchester.
The Minister informed that for this year’s crop, the Export Division will be employing more than 30 people in the preparation of ginger, including peeling.
He said by all indications, operations at the Division are going well. “You have diversified your markets, which is something that is commendable,” he said.
The Minister noted that marketing is important and "is the lynchpin of how we go forward in production and making our farmers better off, because if we do not deal with the marketing aspect, it doesn’t make sense you produce, even for local consumption."
For his part, General Manager of the Export Division, Sylburn Thomas, informed that export production has increased from 147 tonnes in 2008 up to 692 tonnes in 2010, noting that “we have diversified the market base to achieve these numbers”.
"In 2008, the United States (US) was 60 per cent of our market share. Of course, the US had its financial crisis and so forth, so we made changes…so that no single market accounts for more than 30 per cent of the export, that way, we are secure against the international risks in those countries. The US is now 27 per cent; India is 21 per cent; Germany accounts for 12 per cent…," he informed.
The spices handled by the Division are pimento, nutmeg, turmeric, ginger.
Mr. Clarke, along with Ministry officials, also toured the Cocoa Industry Board, Wallenford Coffee Company Limited, the Fisheries Division, and the Coffee Industry Board, which are all located on Marcus Garvey Drive.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter