Growth & Jobs |Tomato glut to provide opportunity for entrepreneurs
AS THE country sees a glut in the market for tomatoes, the Scientific Research Council (SRC) says there is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to utilise its pilot processing plant to create tomato-based products such as sauces, pastes, or juices.
Acting Managing Director of the SRC, Dr Charah Watson, said that the plant can formulate a range of products from agricultural produce.
“Part of the SRC’s mandate is to support the growth and development of agriculture and agro-processing, so we are always looking at how we can help to prevent agricultural losses due to gluts, which occur from time to time,” she noted.
“Too often, we see produce being wasted, so the SRC, through its pilot plant, has several processing options such as grinding, milling, drying, and minimal processing, which can add value to the product and extend the shelf life,” she added.
Dr Watson said that the SRC has already developed product formulations, including a tomato ketchup preparation, and there are manufacturing protocols in place to process tomato into products such as sauces and other condiments.
She noted that currently, the SRC can process 100 kilograms of produce per client in a day.
“We can process the product as a finished product or as an input for another product. The SRC can process all fruit and plant products that can be dried, canned, or made into preserves or jellies. We also do vacuum sealing and deactivation of the colourisation that happens when you peel tubers and other ground provisions,” she said.
Dr Watson noted that the SRC is willing to work with entrepreneurs at various business stages and offers business development services with the help of partners such as the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC).
“A lot of persons may be uncertain about starting a business at this time because of the pandemic, but one thing is certain, we must eat. With the borders for many countries being closed and movement being restricted, we Jamaicans must become more self-reliant in how we feed ourselves, and tapping into agro-processing is a great way of doing this,” she pointed out.
Dr Watson noted that the cost of the services offered by the SRC is below market value in keeping with the Government’s mandate of helping to develop micro, small, and medium enterprises.
Interested persons can contact the SRC by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (876) 927-1771-4; 977-2193/5; 977-1110.