Sun | Mar 7, 2021

Agriculture Ministry develops national yam strategy

Published:Monday | January 25, 2021 | 4:04 PM
Floyd Green (2nd left), Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, and Permanent Secretary Dermon Spence (right) pose with yellow yam during a tour of farms in South Trelawny on January 22. At left is Councillor Desmond Smith of the Lorimers Division.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has established a National Yam Oversight Committee with responsibility for charting the future of yam production island-wide through the development of a national yam strategy.

This yam strategy is being developed in consultation with stakeholders to include farmers and exporters and is aimed at driving up the production of yam, as well as examining ways of increasing earnings from exports through value addition.

This disclosure was made by Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green at a meeting with farmers at Albert Town High School in Trelawny on January 22.

Noting that yam is a critical domestic crop, Minister Green said that over the last five years it has become number one in exports with earnings of US$24 million in 2019.

He, however, stated that there was a need to ensure consistency in supply as currently demand was outstripping supply.

“We have exporters who are saying to us that they could export 10 containers per week and now we do four to six, so there is a tremendous opportunity in relation to yam,” Green said.

Other strategies being pursued by the Ministry to increase yam production are the revitalisation of sweet yam production, research on the best types of yam to be targeted for increased production as well as the use of technology in relation to minisett.

Currently, under the Ministry’s Production Incentive Programme, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority is also working with farmers to increase the production of sweet yam, which is in high demand.

“Over the last two years, we have had good success and we are seeing consistent increases in the production of sweet yam,” Green stated.

Acknowledging the importance of community-based organisations in ensuring the longevity of yam production, Green stated that the Ministry is providing technical support for the establishment of a yam association and challenged the South Trelawny farmers to be the first to set up a yam farmers’ association.

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