FAO in Jamaica, Bahamas and Belize

Replicating technology as the groundwork for developing Jamaica’s Turmeric Industry

The cutting of Turmeric buds. FAO/Chrishane Williams

Known for growing one of the most pungent and potent ginger varieties in the world, Jamaica is seeking to develop the sister root, turmeric based on the success with technologies used for re-developing Jamaica’s ginger industry. Presently, almost 90% of the dried turmeric used in Jamaica is imported, despite it being said that Jamaican turmeric contains strong characteristics in flavour, colour and curcumin content. Now, with the replication of new technology that can help to bolster production, turmeric is poised to become one of the country’s prime export crops.

Through a partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Research and Development Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and its regulatory arm the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA), Jamaica has entered the first phase of developing its turmeric industry with the introduction of a technology to intensify turmeric production.

Through a series of trainings of the country’s private and public sector workers and plant nursery operators, the Rapid Multiplication of Turmeric to produce quality turmeric through Single Bud Technology, is helping the country to prepare for increasing and commercializing turmeric production. Among the priorities has been the dissemination of the technology across Jamaica to enable plant nurseries to grow and multiply quality turmeric planting material. The innovative technology, which currently supports Jamaica in rebuilding its ginger production has been successfully used in India to grow spices.

The Technology

The Single Bud Technology is an innovation first introduced in the Caribbean by FAO Expert and Plant Pathologist Professor Duraisamy Saravanakumar in 2017 during an FAO training geared towards resuscitating Jamaica’s ginger industry. Following the country’s devastating losses due to the Ginger Rhizome Rot disease, the technology aided in growing clean, disease-free ginger on a highly replicable scale, from the tissue culture stage to ginger plantlets, allowing farmers to have access to affordable clean ginger plantlets for production. This cost-effective technology is now being used to build Jamaica’s turmeric sector based on the principles of good agricultural practices.

The technology is successfully helping the country’s ginger sector to gradually and steadily recover from the ginger rhizome rot disease. Once trained in the benefits and implementation of this technology, along with good agricultural practices and the introduction of a certification system for the production of quality turmeric, we are optimistic that within a few years, consistent turmeric production will be achieved, says Professor Saravanakumar.

Turmeric, which has similar growing properties to ginger is now in its pilot project phase, as part of an industry business model introduced by FAO andJACRA to assist in scaling up production and creating an efficient and resilient turmeric value chain.

By increasing commercial turmeric cultivation, Jamaican farmers could see a 65% profit margin per cycle whilst also enhancing the socio-economic wellbeing of many of our rural communities says Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Honourable Floyd Green. He added that the technology being introduced was critical to applying good agricultural practices to ensure that the country could drive the growth of quality turmeric.

The Business Model

The turmeric industry will be built using a participatory value chain development approach, which leverages from the successes of the ginger value chain development process. Through value chain assessments conducted by JACRA and FAO, an industry business model that integrates the private sector will be developed to ensure that Jamaican turmeric can reap quantifiable benefits for the nation’s farmers, processors and exporters. This business model relies on the production of clean planting materials issued through certified nursery operations that have applied Good Agricultural Practices. Taking these measures will be crucial to ensuring the country’s ability to produce turmeric in a sustainable manner.

Big results

The turmeric pilot project is a 1-year 20-acre pilot that will involve turmeric nurseries, farmers, exporters and processors, significant public and private investment, training and research and development trials. By December 2021, the pilot is anticipated to result in a 25% increase in national turmeric production, the creation of approximately 34 jobs and the training of farmers in good agricultural practices and new technologies in order to increase yields by 100%. In addition, the cost of turmeric production is expected to decrease by approximately 33% allowing pilot farmers to earn up to JMD26 million from sales. Within the next five years, it is expected that the industry will grow and reach full potential on the global market and provide quality home-grown materials to the island’s sauces and seasoning manufacturers.

The success of the single bud technology in India and its success in Jamaica thus far is an excellent example of how cost-effective technologies can be scaled up and replicated to promote food security and economic growth. By ensuring that this technology is carefully and strategically employed, the country will be able to deliver high quality planting material at an economical price to farmers and help in building and sustaining a robust turmeric industry for Jamaica.

 Edited from Original