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JP Farms launches into sweet potato market with first harvest of new variety

Published:Sunday | November 8, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Dr Damian Graham (right), general manager of JP Farms, shows Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Derrick Kellier (left) a sample of sweet potato freshly dug from the soil, while Luther Buchanan (second right), state minister for agriculture, looks on.

JP Farms has expanded and diversified its farming activities in St Mary with the introduction of its first crop of sweet potato to the market.

In a release, JP Farms said it has partnered with the Ministry of Agriculture, through its Bodles Research Facility, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, and Newport Fersan to introduce commercial production of a new variety of supersweet, nutrient-rich sweet potatoes.

"The first phase of the project will be 20 acres, and the company is targeting an additional 80 acres for further expansion in line with market demand," JP said in the release

Derrick Kellier, minister of agriculture and fisheries, visited JP Farms to witness the first harvest of JP Farms' sweet potatoes and to review the expansion of the farm.

JP Farms, the farming operation of JP Tropical Foods, is based in Agualta Vale, St Mary.

Over the past 85 years, JP has focused on banana production but has diversified its product focus to include pineapples, coconuts, cassava, and most recently, sweet potatoes, for the domestic market.

versatile and easy-to-cook starch

A hallmark of the approach taken by the company has been to introduce new varieties and quality protocols for fresh produce.

JP Farms was a pioneer in the commercial introduction of new pineapple varieties. More recently, JP Farms has developed cassava varieties suited to snack-food production.

The new variety of sweet potato will be marketed under the JP Tropical brand and is a versatile and easy-to-cook starch that is suited to the Jamaican palate.

According to Dr Damian Graham, general manager of JP Farms, "Consumers will come to know and love this JP Sweet Potato from the baptism in the rich soil of JP Farms. We have brought to Jamaica the JP Pineapple, JP Sweet Cassava, JP Fresh Coconuts, and the JP Bananas. We will continue to expand the varieties of JP Sweet Potatoes to include other varieties."

aim to improve farming operations

JP Farms' investment in crop diversification and increased acres under cultivation is also linked to recent investments mechanisation and state-of-the-art enterprise resource planning farming software to improve forecasting, planning, and controls in its farming operations.

The company proposes to use this technological base to provide training and production system support to other farmers and learning institutions.

JP Farms currently supplies all channels within the domestic fresh market, including the retail, hospitality, and industrial segments.

JP Sweet Potatoes will be available to supply all of these channels, and further expansion will be undertaken in line with market acceptance.

According to Graham, "I am pleased that JP Farms continues to be absolutely committed to being the leader in innovation in Jamaican agriculture and to providing Jamaican consumers with healthy, attractive, and competitively priced food options."