Agro-processors encouraged to use more scallion
Agro-processors are being encouraged to use more scallion, to minimise the impact of the beet army worm (BAW) on farmers.
"This would help, as farmers would have a ready market to supply the scallion as opposed to leaving them unattended in the fields, which is what creates a host for the BAW to reproduce and grow in numbers," deputy research director, Crop and Plant Protection Unit, Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Michelle Sherwood, said .
She also noted that the increase in production would provide the perfect opportunity for entrepreneurs to get the crop at a significantly reduced rate and in abundance to introduce new spices to the industry.
"I see where there is a great need to expand the use of the crop (scallion) outside of just for mash. We need entrepreneurs to see how best they can introduce this crop as part of their ingredients or start a new product for the market," Sherwood said.
She explained that during the spring season, there is excess scallion on the market, and entrepreneurs should plan for the surplus.
"We are aware of a cottage industry for scallion powder. If we can expand that area of the production system, then it will help to expand that market and it's a product that can be utilised in the restaurant industry and food stores," Sherwood added.
She noted that expansion of the seasoning industry would benefit both farmers and entrepreneurs.
"The farmers in St Elizabeth are not reaping the excess crop, because there is little or no demand for it and the price is extremely low," she said.
Sherwood pointed out that the unfortunate BAW outbreak could be an opportunity to reignite interest in the spice industry for the country.