External demand for Jamaican agricultural produce and value-added items continues to increase, despite the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
This was disclosed by Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Floyd Green, during the virtual launch of the Agriculture Trade Enforcement Advisory Mechanism (ATEAM), on Thursday (September 2).
Mr. Green informed that for the January to April 2021 quarter, Jamaica earned US$10 million from the export of yam, up from US$8 million during the corresponding period last year.
He noted that the ground provision has emerged as the country’s leading domestic crop export.
The Minister also indicated that canned ackee earned US$7 million during the review period, up from US$6 million in the April 2020 quarter, to be the top agro-processing export.
“While we do very well in fresh produce exports, there is still a tremendous market for value added exports,” Mr. Green indicated
He pointed out that the out-turn for sauces has also been significant, noting that earnings totalled US$12 million for April 2021 as against US$7 million last year, adding that “[that’s] almost a 100 per cent increase”.
Mr. Green said the Ministry remains committed to prioritising export expansion, noting that the ATEAM is critical to these efforts.
“We are going to take deliberate and calculated actions to drive our export markets. It is critical that we look at our import bill and see where we have the capacity to produce what we import and ramp up our productions,” he said.
Mr. Green advised that the Ministry will also be working with Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) and other entities to get more local produce into the international market.
He maintained, however, that as a small island state, “we have to analyse the crops we invest in on a very strategic level”.
The Agriculture Trade Enforcement Advisory Mechanism aims to remove unjustifiable trade restrictions, to make it easier for stakeholders to access international markets.