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'Farmers would not be pleased with Diageo offer'

Published:Thursday | January 24, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Roger Clarke, minister of agriculture and fisheries. - file

A PROPOSAL by Diageo, the parent company for Red Stripe, to pay $1 per pound for cassava has resulted in Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke deciding against encouraging Jamaican farmers to grow the tuber for beer production.

Clarke, who was responding to questions in the House of Representatives on Tuesday stopped short of saying he would not risk incurring the wrath of the farmers by suggesting the price to them.

"They came to the fore indicating that they wanted cassava to replace the hops in their beer. I did not go to the farmers until I got from them what is the indicative price that they would pay. When they came, finally they said to me they would pay $1 per pound," Clarke said.

He added: "I couldn't take that message to any farmer, because you know farmers in Jamaica travel with cutlass."

West Central St Catherine MP Dr Ken Baugh had enquired whether Clarke would be considering the use of sorghum and cassava for use in animal feed.

In the meantime, Clarke, responding to questions tabled by North West St Elizabeth Member of Parliament J.C. Hutchinson, said 142 hectares of land is planned for the production of corn. He said any further decision as to the quantum of the crop to be produced will be guided by the results from the test trial being conducted.

The minister said the moisture content of the corn from the first trial was 12 per cent. He said the range of acceptable moisture for milling is 12 to 14 per cent.

But Hutchinson challenged Clarke for suggesting that small farmers should get involved in the growing of corn.

"It has to be large acreage and it has to be a minimum of 500 acres," Hutchinson said.