More than 200 acres of farmland in St Catherine is now being prepared as the Government moves to kick-start its campaign to cultivate more cassava islandwide.
Dean Passard, coordinator of the Cassava Industrialisation Initiative at the Ministry of Agriculture, told The Gleaner that approximately 250 acres of land in the parish is currently being cleared and ploughed for growing of the staple.
"Planting will begin in June," Passard said, adding that within nine months, the project should provide an estimated 2,000 pounds of cassava.
Another 1,200 acres of cassava is estimated to be under cultivation by farmers and groups islandwide.
Data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica show that more than 18,500 metric tonnes of cassava was grown in 2007. Last year, production increased by 4.6 per cent to 17,700 tonnes, compared with the figure recorded for 2006.
Passard emphasised that the Government's objective to boost the production of root crops will increase the availability of animal feed locally, and provide a substitute for starches like rice and flour.
However, he said the cultivation of crops such as cassava, yam and sweet potato will largely depend on investments by members of the private sectors as the Government only intends to provide technical support.
Some $50 million will be spent on harvesting of the root crops.
The Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) is supporting the Government's thrust to boost the production of staples.
JAS president, Senator Norman Grant said the initiative has heightened awareness about cassava.