Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Onion project hit by rain

Published:Wednesday | December 14, 2016 | 12:00 AMTameka Gordon

The Ministry of Agriculture's onion development programme will likely miss its target to supply 17 per cent of the country's needs from its current crop year because of the recent spate of heavy rains.

Despite getting roughly 30 more farmers in the programme, director general in the Ministry of Agriculture, Don McGlashan, said the farmers may not have planted the amount of tuber needed to meet the target, due to the bad weather.

Launched in 2013, the onion development programme now supplies 10-12 per cent of demand.

It is hoped that by 2020, at least 40 per cent of demand will be supplied from local production.

"We projected to have 147 hectares to be completed in fall. We should have completed a majority of our planting in November but that is the case and we are running the season late," McGlashan said.

He said the farmers are hoping to make up the lost ground by the first week of January.

A clear read on the actual production should be available in the next two weeks, but some 120-130 hectares have so far been planted, he said.

"What we are now doing is preparing ourselves to start the spring planting in March," said McGlashan.

Certain varieties of onions, such as Texas and Mercedes, are better suited for the fall, when the days are shorter. Intermediate varieties are planted in spring when the days are longer, McGlashan said, while noting that fall is the better season to plant in Jamaica.

"The 17 per cent target will be delayed, but with the increased March planting, we are still aiming for the target," he said.

The programme now has 280 farmers on board, up from 251, and the parishes of St Ann, St Thomas and Trelawny have been added to the crop network. Cultivation will also return to south Manchester, now that the beet army worm pest is being brought under control, McGlashan said.

tameka.gordon@gleanerjm.com