Drive on to boost seed production
Paul H. Williams, Gleaner Writer
"There is money in seeds," says Nicola Phillips, chairman of Jamaica Organic Agriculture Movement (JOAM) seed committee. However, in Jamaica, there is not a culture of seed production and saving for commercial purposes. That is why JOAM is now seeking organic farmers and members of the agricultural sector to go into the seed-production business.
To this end, JOAM and the Food and Agriculture Organisation will this month be hosting a series of workshops across the island on seed production and seed saving. Ira Wallace, managing director of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, will be visiting the island to pass on her knowledge of and experience in operating a successful seed company.
Wallace will be meeting with interested small farmers and commercial growers about starting seed-production businesses.
"Right now, most of our organic farmers have to import from overseas companies like Johnny's Seeds, Seeds of Change and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and there is no reason to send our hard-earned money out of the country when we have all the right conditions to grow seeds all year round, here in Jamaica. This is a good business opportunity for Jamaicans," said Phillips.
On Tuesday, December 14, the first workshop will be held at Jacobs Farm in Port Morant, St Thomas. The second will be on Thursday, December 16, at the Ministry of Agriculture's Bodles Research Station, St Catherine. These two will target small farmers. At Durgas Farm in St Ann on Saturday, December 18, under the theme 'Seed Production for the 21st Century', the workshop will be mainly for commercial farmers, nursery managers, and other entrepreneurs. It will focus on increasing revenue streams for farmers, food security in relation to seed production and establishing a seed sector in Jamaica.
"Many people do not understand how important seeds are to food security," Raymond Martin, chairman of JOAM, said.
"In recent years, many of the US-based seed companies have been bought up and history tells us that whoever controls the seeds controls the food. The introduction of hybrid seeds prevents our farmers from saving seeds and they are losing the ability to recover quickly from a disaster and are more dependent on external suppliers. Hence, it is important for Jamaican farmers to take control of their seed production and make some money in the process."