Big boost for irish potato and onion production

September 22, 2023
Contributed photo of minister Floyd Green

The Government will be spending $150 million to increase Irish potato production and $80 million to assist onion farmers as part of its strategy to boost the yield of specific crops, to ensure food security.

Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining, Floyd Green, said one of the objectives is to increase Irish potato production by 20 tons per hectare over the 2023 to 2024 period.

Speaking at the commencement of the 2023-2024 National Irish Potato and Onion Production and Productivity Incentive Programme, in Chudleigh, Manchester, on September 20, the Minister said the funds will be used to provide crop care and productivity support to a maximum of two hectares per farmer.

“We are going to use that $150 million, plus the support from our various partners, to establish nine validation plots, because we have to enhance our training programmes,” the Minister said.

Other activities will include the staging of farm tours for farmers not directly benefiting from training within the validation plots; strengthening marketing agreements/contracts between farmers and buyers by assisting at least 70 per cent of farmers participating with formal contracts; and field visits and monitoring of Irish potato best practises will be intensified.

Minister Green told his audience that Irish potato and onion development has been part of the Ministry’s priority programmes for a long time, because they contribute directly towards assisting more than 70,000 farmers and direct/indirect employment creation for more than 350,000 Jamaicans.

Areas targeted for Irish potato production are Guy’s Hill in St. Catherine, the Manchester belt, upper Westmoreland (Darliston area), and Mavis Bank in St. Andrew.

The Ministry is working with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) to rehabilitate the Coleyville Cold Storage Facilities in Christiana (Manchester), to provide more storage space for the produce.

Under the programme for onion farmers, they will be provided with technical support, seeds for planting, herbicides and equipment to include rotobedders (land preparation machines), seed planters and tractor service.

“To boost post-harvesting techniques, we have also identified storage in Spring Plains, Clarendon, and Twickenham Park in Spanish Town, St. Catherine,” the Minister said.

He said it has been observed that St. Thomas and St. Elizabeth have been consistently showing the best yields in onion production, adding that the farmers are “taking the training, they are adapting, and are seeing better yields, with focus on precise nutrition, pest and disease control, and soil testing.”


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