The Government of Jamaica, in response to rising corn prices, is collaborating with a number of local private sector entities, notably Jamaica Broilers Limited, to expand corn production. Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, made the disclosure on September 18 in the House of Representatives.
He informed that, already, the company has established 100 acres of corn, and plans to expand to 300 acres shortly. The Government, in partnership with Jamaica Broilers, will also be cultivating some 200 acres of corn at Amity Hall, St. Catherine, while another entity in Prospect, Hanover, will be putting in 400 acres.
"As soon as the technology of growing the corn, using best practices, is perfected, the Government will move to mobilise farmers to grow corn to be purchased by (Jamaica Broilers).The Government will be providing technical support as well as support with land clearing and preparation in the first instance," Minister Clarke stated.
He appealed to farmers to "step up their game" and for more private entities to join the Government in corn production, as the food crisis provides an opportunity to create wealth. "The Government is committed to providing all the support necessary in the drive to increase our food self sufficiency," the Agriculture Minister said.
Since 2009, the food price index has increased from 157 to 213, an increase of 36 per cent. This increase was more significant for cereals on which the country is heavily dependent, both as a primary food and as raw material for manufacturing animal feeds, which moved from 174 to 260, an increase of almost 50 per cent.