More banana exports to the UK
Jamaica will be supplying more bananas to the United Kingdom (UK), while Trinidad and Tobago has given clearance for the produce to enter its territory.
Agriculture Minister Derrick Kellier said last week that on October 16, a contract was signed with a UK entity for the supply of one container of bananas per week, which is expected to increase to 10 containers over time.
He said further that last month, "the authorities in Trinidad and Tobago gave Jamaica phyto-sanitary clearance to export our bananas to their country".
In June, Jamaica resumed banana shipments to the UK after a six-year absence from that market because of the devastating effects of several hurricanes on the sector and changes in the preferential agreement with the UK.
The weekly shipments of the fruit, weighing 2,000 pounds, continued up to the end of August, and the ministry had said that a UK buyer would arrive in Jamaica to negotiate long-term contracts for importing Jamaican bananas into Britain.
Kellier, who was delivering the keynote address at the launch of the 'Eat Jamaican Month' campaign last Wednesday at the Jamaica Agricultural Society's (JAS) downtown Kingston offices, said the ministry continued to seek new export markets for local produce through the Fresh Produce Consortium.
Earlier this year, a team from the ministry, along with farmers and exporters, attended the London Produce Show as guests of the Fresh Produce Consortium, resulting in transactions to supply sweet potato, yam, Julie mangoes, ginger, Moringa, castor oil, a variety of herbs and spices, and a range of fruits to that market.
"As we increase opportunities through the export platform, we continue to develop marketing arrangements with our partners in the United States and those in the UK," Kellier said.
He noted that the agro parks programme was aimed at boosting production for exports. He said that the programme was being expanded, with some 8,000 hectares of "good agricultural lands" in western Jamaica earmarked for large-scale production.
"These agro parks will be located in ... Enfield, Westmoreland; and Shettlewood, Mafoota, and Sunderland in St James. Given the enormous opportunities that exist in the export market, the agro parks will provide us with large-scale production at the level of consistency, which will make us competitive on the world market," Kellier pointed out.
He urged the private sector to help in building the "growth momentum" by using more local raw material and to partner with farmers to achieve the levels of efficiencies required.
He also called for the population to support the Eat Jamaican initiative by consuming more local produce.
During the month of November, the JAS will be staging several exhibitions at schools, food establishments, and other public places to encourage the buying of local foods.
An essay competition will also be launched in memory of the late Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Roger Clarke.