Agriculture ministry to develop strategy to boost yam production

Agriculture ministry to develop strategy to boost yam production

Monday, January 25, 2021

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KINGSTON, Jamaica— The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries says it has established a National Yam Oversight Committee with responsibility for developing a national yam strategy.

According to a statement from the ministry, the strategy, which will “chart the future of yam production islandwide”, is being developed in consultation with stakeholders to include farmers and exporters and organisations like JAMPRO.

The ministry said the strategy is aimed at driving up the production of yam as well as examining ways of increasing earnings from exports through value addition.

Portfolio minister, Floyd Green, made the disclosure at a recent meeting with farmers at Albert Town High School in Trelawny.

Noting that yam is a critical domestic crop, Green said that over the last five years it has become number one in exports with earnings of US$24 million in 2019.

He noted, however, that there was a need to ensure consistency in supply as demand is currently outstripping supply.

“We have exporters who are saying to us that they could export 10 containers per week and now we do four to six, so there is a tremendous opportunity in relation to yam,” Green said.

Other strategies being pursued to increase yam production are the revitalisation of sweet yam production, research on the best types of yam to be targeted for increased production as well as the use of technology.

The ministry also said that under its current Production Incentive Programme, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority has been working with farmers to increase the production of sweet yam, which is in high demand.

“Over the last two years, we have had good success and we are seeing consistent increases in the production of sweet yam,” Green said.

He acknowledged the important role that community-based organisations play in ensuring the longevity of yam production.

The ministry is providing technical support for the establishment of a yam association and challenged the South Trelawny farmers to be the first to set up a yam farmers' association, he said.

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