Kellier hails onion farmers
MINISTER WITH responsibility for agriculture, Derrick Kellier, has said the Government is embarking on a massive drive to boost the cultivation of onions, stating in Parliament last week that the crop has significant potential for export.
"We project the involvement of over 300 more farmers, five major buyers, and the establishment of 120 hectares yielding some 2,400 tonnes, or 20 per cent of the imports," Kellier said.
He said onion production this year is likely to create 150 additional jobs, and told colleague legislators that Jamaican farmers have been producing high-quality onions.
The minister, who displayed some massive onions - the size of American apples - in Parliament, acknowledged the efforts of small farmers who are involved in the production of onions in the Yallahs agro-park and in Llandewey, both in St Thomas.
He named Lawrence Lynch, Gary McLean and Suzette Samuels as persons who have been doing well in the production of the crop in the eastern end of the island.
Meanwhile, Kellier said Jamaica intends to take advantage of what he described as tremendous export potential in the British market for bananas, sweet potatoes, watermelons and mangoes. He said, too, the Government is encouraging investment in coffee and cocoa, areas which he says presents significant opportunity for investment.
The minister also told Parliament that preliminary data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica indicate that the country's food import bill declined by $5.014 billion (US$43.6 million) last year, representing a 4.5 per cent reduction over the corresponding period in 2013. This represents the largest decline recorded since 2009.