Fertipeanut to rescue of St Elizabeth's failing peanut industry
Seventy to 80 per cent of Jamaica's supply of peanuts is produced in St Elizabeth, and according to information from the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) extension officer for the Santa Cruz area, Donnaree Rowe, the yield has been falling.
To combat this, Rowe said RADA has started doing some work with the farmers, in collaboration with Fersan (blenders and suppliers of fertilisers), to formulate nutrition that will improve the yields.
She said farmers are being encouraged to do soil sampling, a service which is offered free of cost by Fersan.
"What they do, they take soil samples to assess and analyse the nutrition present in it, and then they use it to formulate a nutrition that is lacking in it," Rowe explained.
There are three critical things that are now affecting peanut production and they are iron, boron and magnesium deficiencies.
Arising from the work done with Fersan, Rowe said they have now produced a fertiliser known as fertipeanut, which has been helping to alleviate some of the nutritional imbalances that are in the soil.
A demonstration plot that was done and completed days before the 66th staging of the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show had a yield improving by 40 per cent.
With the dry season facing the country, Rowe said that that has also increased the challenge facing peanut production.
"However, it can be alleviated and compensated if the nutrition is right. It puts the plants under less stress, once the nutrition is made available," she said, adding that during the drought period, the nutrition can be applied in a folio format.
On Saturday, during his address at the the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show, Minister of Agriculture Audley Shaw made reference to peanut production in Jamaica. He said it was time for more of Jamaica's peanuts to be utilised.
"Some countries don't even grow certain products. They import it from the United States. Peanut is an example ... imported from the United States, sprinkled with little salt on it in a member country and then enter duty-free into Jamaica, while peanuts that grow in St Elizabeth can't sell ... something wrong with that!" he said, adding that these things will be faced "frontally and dealt with".