Sat | Sep 23, 2017

More local produce to hit US markets

Published:Friday | April 8, 2016 | 4:00 AM

Jamaica's farmers are set to benefit from a US$29- million pilot project which will see more local produce being sold in cities across the United States (US).

The Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) has partnered with the US-based National Association of Christian Educators (NACE) to embark on the project, which will initially benefit 10 farmers in St Ann for one year.

A memorandum of understanding was signed by both entities on Wednesday during a ceremony to officially launch Farmers' Month at the JAS' head office, downtown Kingston.

Under the agreement, the farmers will be supplying three cities in the US with vegetables such as turnip greens, sweet potatoes, string beans, okra, cabbage, bell peppers, sweet peppers, carrots, cucumbers, Irish potatoes, corn, squash and onions.

The NACE has provided loan funds, which the farmers will be able to access through the local banks and credit unions.

planting

The farmers are expected to start planting on May 1, with reaping to begin within 45 to 90 days. Export of the produce is slated to get underway in June.

The goods will be sent to Nashville, Tennessee where they will be sorted, then sent via 18-wheeler trucks to Detroit, St Louis and Oklahoma City twice a week.

President of NACE, Dr Amos Jones, said through this partnership, Jamaica will become the "breadbasket for the food deserts of the US."

Pointing to the significance of this arrangement, Dr Amos said it would enable more residents of inner-city areas in the US to access fresh produce.

He noted that food market chains have been pulling out of these areas, leaving persons to travel long distances to purchase produce.

As such he said, the arrangement would foster "the development of agriculture and agri-business in Jamaica, and the supply of nutritional foods in the inner cities of the US".