MINISTER of Agriculture and Fisheries Robert Montague says the ministry will be reviewing the number of crops which are currently cultivated commercially in Jamaica.
This, he said, will be done in a bid to reduce the number from 64, to between 15 and then 20 and, in the process, streamline the crops in which Jamaica is deemed to have competitive and comparative advantages.
Speaking at the eighth anniversary of the Jamaica Agricultural Society's (JAS) 'Eat Jamaican' campaign at the Denbigh Show Ground, May Pen, Clarendon, last week, Montague contended that "the 64 crops that we do we cannot do them profitably". These include a wide range of legumes, vegetables, condiments, fruits, cereals, potatoes, and tubers.
The minister said he has directed that the ministry review the list with a view to effecting the reduction, concentrate on the crops being streamlined, and "put all our resources behind them and, therefore, maximise the earnings from them". He cited turmeric, sorrel, and ginger among the crops which would be prioritised.
"These are spices that Jamaica has a competitive and comparative advantage in producing. So we will be moving to expand turmeric, which now grows wild. I think we have about 53 acres in Jamaica, and we will be moving to expand that to some 350 acres. (We will also move) to double the production of 250 acres of ginger to 500 acres, and to expand the 700 acres of sorrel that we have, to, at least 1,500 acres," he said.
Noting that this priority focus has been used elsewhere in the Caribbean, Montague noted Grenada's success in its emphasis on nutmeg production as an example.
"Grenada took the nutmeg concentrated on (it) and they were able to maximise the returns from (it). We would like to concentrate on 15 to 20 crops out all the necessary resources behind them, and maximise the returns from them, so that our farmers can see and reap the benefits of the hard labour that they are putting in," he emphasised.
Other crops which the ministry will prioritise production of, include: onion, yellow yam, pineapple, and hot pepper.
Montague assured, however, that despite the focus on these, other crops will be cultivated, inclusive of carrot, tomato, and Irish potato.