THE first shipment of 2,650 metric tonnes of fertiliser left the island on Thursday for Cuba after Newport Fersan Jamaica Limited -- the country's sole fertiliser manufacturer -- secured its largest export deal to supply the Caribbean island with 4,950 metric tonnes (99,000 bags) of the product.
Newport Fersan's managing director, Dennis Valdez, said the remaining fertiliser will set sail by the end of next week.
"This is a pure Jamaican product being exported, which is successfully competing with other suppliers in the region in terms of quality, delivery time and price," said a very pleased Valdez.
Valdez was speaking during a tour and ship-loading ceremony at the Newport East, Kingston, plant on Thursday. The tour party included Agriculture Minister Robert 'Bobby' Montague and Dr Christopher Tufton, minister of industry, investment and commerce, who up until a few months ago had the agriculture portfolio.
"This single operation will represent significant earnings in foreign exchange to the financial sector of Jamaica, as well as additional employment and revenue," added Valdez.
Montague, in congratulating the company, noted that the shipment to Cuba provided the country with the opportunity to explore other items for export to Spanish-speaking island as well as to other Caribbean states.
Added to that, he said the twinning of the St Mary Chamber of Commerce with Cuba's national chamber of commerce was an indication that both country will be doing more work together.
"This is a historic day, not only for Fersan but for Jamaica. It is always good when a Jamaican company can be exporting its products, normally it is the other way around," he said.
Dr Tufton, for his part, commended Newport Fersan for its contribution to the country's agriculture industry and pledged the support of his ministry in helping to facilitate more exports.
"I think that today is an indication that there is potential that can be exploited and the Government wants to be a partner in that respect. I tell people that manufacturing is not dead and it is an area that this administration intends to focus a lot more on," he said.
Financing for the fertilisers, valued at Can$3 million, was done through the Export-Import (ExIm) Bank's Cuban line of credit.