Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Support for Irish potato farmers

Published:Saturday | October 15, 2016 | 10:00 AM
Minister Without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries J.C. Hutchinson (second right) in discussion with Dermon Spence (left), chief technical director in the ministry, at an Irish potato production seminar held at the Guy’s Hill Civic Centre in St Catherine on Wednesday. Others (from left) are CEO of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority Peter Thompson and Managing Director at Newport Fersan Dennis Valdez.

The Government is providing some $1.1 billion to assist farmers, under its Irish Potato Expansion Programme, to meet a target of 1,200 hectares of production.

Support to boost the production of Irish potato will be in the form of a $48.3-million grant and more than $700 million of input, including extension services, says Minister Without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries J.C. Hutchinson.

Making the disclosure at an Irish potato production seminar held at the Guy's Hill Civic Centre in St Catherine on Wednesday, Hutchinson said a ready market is available for Irish potato, where farmers can make a profit.

Hutchinson pointed out that farmers will be trained under the project in areas such as spray calibration, new planting techniques, and appropriate use of fertilisers, to coincide with the 2016-2017 crop season.

He added that there will also be demonstration plots and training in proper land preparation, land husbandry, as well as pest management.

The national potato expansion programme is part of the Government's overall strategy to enhance Jamaica's food and nutrition capacity, with the aim of reducing imports, becoming self-sufficient and providing more income for farmers.