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Farm Up Jamaica for organic farming

Published:Thursday | June 9, 2016 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju
Neil Curtis (left), director, Farm Up Jamaica, shows off some of the produce to Pat Wright (centre), of Wright Life restaurant and Dahlia Cole, farm supervisor at Farm Up Jamaica during the Launch of Farm Up Jamiaca which was held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel recently.

Jamaican farmers are missing out on the multibillion market for organically grown food in the US, according to Neil Curtis founder of Farm Up Jamaica.

Curtis wants them to start targeting that niche market in a purposeful way.

Using Farm Up Jamaica as a vehicle for promoting organic farming, Curtis is also highlighting other long-term benefits of this approach to the economy, humans and the environment. These include reduction of the food import bill, creation of green jobs and production of healthful, nutritious food.

Curtis pointed out that given Jamaica's relatively small, arable land space, it was not practical to try to compete with countries such as Mexico, Chile and Peru. Instead, he wants Jamaican farmers to produce for the US organic niche market, where they command premium prices.




AndrÈ Kong, director of fisheries in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, challenged the Farm Up Jamaica founder to extend the concept to include fisherfolk.

"You need to put fisheries in it if you going to truly look at producing food. With respect to aquaculture or the culturing of fish in the freshwater environment, I can see where we can talk about organically produced food," Kong advised.

"The concept of sustainably produced fish is where we need to start. We do have fisheries in Jamaica that are sustainable, like the conch, and we are moving to do the same thing with lobster and other types of fisheries. So I am excited with the overall philosophy and the concept to talk about leveraging market opportunities like that ... leveraging the proximity of the location of Jamaica and, of course, Brand Jamaica."

Farm Up Jamaica promises comprehensive assistance to organic farmers, from start-up to land preparation and securing local and overseas markets.