Tue | Dec 12, 2017

Jamaican Irish potatoes for Cayman Islands

Published:Sunday | August 27, 2017 | 12:00 AM

The way has been made clear for the export of Jamaican-grown Irish potatoes into the Cayman Islands.

This was announced by J.C. Hutchinson, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, while addressing farmers at an Irish Potato and Onion Production Seminar held last Thursday at Hounslow in St Elizabeth to kickstart the 2017-2018 planting season.

Hutchinson said that the Plant Quarantine and Plant Inspection Division of the ministry had secured an agreement with the Cayman, Islands for export of the tuber, among a range of other agricultural items, under the pre-clearance facility between the two countries.

The inclusion of Irish potato on the export list is as a result of an expansion of the current protocol for exporting agricultural produce to Cayman, and it is expected that the trade of these additional items will commence immediately.

The export arrangement with the Cayman Islands is expected to enhance the Government's overall thrust for the expansion and development of the Irish potato industry in Jamaica.

Under the National Irish Potato Programme, local production of the tuber has moved from 39 per cent of demand in 2008 to a projected 99 per cent in 2017.

With the achievement of an almost 100 per cent self-sufficiency rate for local demand of Irish potato, Jamaica is now in a position to enter the export market for the tuber.

Hutchinson thanked and encouraged the farmers, input suppliers and marketers for their collaborative effort and support in achieving almost full self-sufficiency in Irish potato production and announced that the successful Irish potato model would be used for the production of other crops.

The production seminar also included discussions and plans for a similar production drive to increase local onion production from 12.5 per cent of demand to, at least, 70 per cent over the next few years.