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Major investors to cultivate onions

Thursday, February 08, 2018

KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — The Government is in discussions with two major investors for the planting of over 2,000 acres of onions as part of a project to boost supplies for the domestic and export markets.

Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Karl Samuda, says one of the investors has “almost committed” to financing between 400 and 500 acres of land in St Catherine, adding that the other is being “encouraged” to take up an additional 1,000 to 2,000 acres.

The minister was speaking with journalists during a tour of farms and farm roads in St Mary yesterday.

Noting that less than 15 per cent of the domestic demand for onion is currently being filled by local farmers, Samuda said the Government is encouraging major investors to “look at the big acreages that we have to offer” for cultivation in order to “help us to get away from the dependency on imported onions”.

While acknowledging various ongoing onion production initiatives islandwide, he said the ministry is looking at embarking on a major project “to get over this dependency on imports”.

“We want to produce at a scale… in excess of (domestic) demand, and export the balance. That forms part of our objective, which is to make agriculture a net foreign exchange earner,” he added.

Samuda pointed out that Jamaica has a “long way to go” in terms of achieving this goal, but said he is particularly encouraged by the level of heightened interest in cultivating onions, and how this will help.

“Land is available… and I am encouraging everybody to do onions,” the minister said.

Samuda's tour included visits to the communities of Albion Mountain, Chovey and Gibraltar along with representatives of the ministry and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority.

The Minister was shown several crops under cultivation and equipment utilised in the process.