Sun | May 26, 2019

Shaw on the right track

Published:Friday | April 26, 2019 | 12:14 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Many years ago, when the agro parks were established, I was excited, as it was expected to bring more structure to the farming sector. However, it never delivered, as the parks seemed to work in isolation, with little or no consultation with key stakeholders.

I was recently encouraged to read where Agriculture Minister Audley Shaw indicated that the Government is looking to partner with another entity to build out the pimento industry, among others. Also, where a memorandum of understanding was signed for an agro-economic zone at Holland, St Elizabeth.

I was even more encouraged about the news about the agro park at Ridge Pen in Hounslow, where they will be focusing on hot peppers and vegetables. Hot peppers and pimento are key ingredients in our world-famous hot sauces and jerk seasonings.

I would also encourage the minister to look at establishing ackee orchards. We have been reaping from these trees as well as pimento trees for decades, with no new crops being planted. For too long, the growth of these key industries has been stifled by the inadequate supplies of raw materials. The demand for these Jamaican-branded products is increasing daily.

The last study showed that Jamaica only accounted for two per cent of the hot sauce market in the United States. Most of our agro-processing factories are underutilised due to a shortage of key raw materials. We need to fix this so that the factories can maximise their output, resulting in more exports and revenue.

Minister Shaw, you are on the right track. However, I will not applaud you just now. I will wait until the plan is realised. Let us all work together to make it happen.

ANDREW GRAY

Gray’s Pepper

grays.pepper@cwjamaica.com