An American firm is planning to shell out US$2 million (approximately J$212 million) to establish a fertiliser processing plant in Jamaica.
Sapphire Agriculture LLC has earmarked February 2014 as the start-up date for the new plant, which will be based in the Corporate Area and will employ some 20 persons initially.
According to vice-president and managing director of the Sapphire Agriculture, Alex Kaminsky, the location has already been chosen and the blending machine assembled.
Kaminsky, who has had experience in supplying fertiliser to the Jamaican market, said the plant will have the capability of producing 40,000 tons each year with the product to be sold in 25- and 50-kilogram bags.
"What we have here in Jamaica is a company that imports raw materials in bulk vessels and blends for the local market. We also have imported blended and bagged fertiliser from the United States.
"We are taking the middle ground as our facility does not need to be on the water," Kaminsky told The Sunday Gleaner.
According to Kaminsky, the company plans to import fertiliser raw materials from the US, Trinidad, Europe, and Russia in bulk containers for blending, bagging and distributing. The product will also be exported to the Caribbean.
"We will compete on price and quality," declared Kaminsky as he argued that Jamaican farmers should see a decrease in prices with the additional player in the fertiliser market.
That is good news for president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Senator Norman Grant.
"Anything that will provide lower input cost to the farmers will be welcomed by the JAS," Grant told The Sunday Gleaner.
"I do not have details of this new company as yet, but as president of the JAS, I will certainly meet with them even as we remain committed to the established entities which have served us well," added Grant.
He noted that domestic agriculture production has seen a more than 19 per cent growth when compared to last year with even further growth expected next year.
"The JAS and the Ministry of Agriculture will be rolling out programmes to drive local production early in the new year," said Grant, as he expressed best wishes for 2014 to all players in the sector.
"One of the programmes which will be pushed next year is the national red peas planting scheme," Grant said.
He noted that for this year, seven million kilograms of red peas was imported, with only one million kilograms grown locally.
"We will have to work to change that next year."
In the meantime, Kaminsky said local farmers will be able to get all the popular brands of fertiliser from his company with products specific for greenhouse and irrigation systems also available to the local market.
"We believe strongly in the future of agriculture in Jamaica, and we plan to offer quality fertiliser products," stated Alexei Shehotsov, president of Sapphire Agriculture
He said the company has a positive future outlook with the planned expansion of the container terminal being good for their business model.
Shehotsov argued that this is a good time for young people to become involved in farming and his company is prepared to support efforts aimed at producing increased amounts of agriculture in Jamaica