Agriculture ministry launches $18.4-million plantain pilot projectThursday, June 24, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has launched a 10-hectare plantain pilot project to be implemented by The Banana Board at a cost of approximately $18.4 million with a direct contribution of $8 million from farmers.
The project, aimed at stimulating the expansion of plantain production, will be implemented over a two-year period, targeting 16 plantain farmers across the parishes of St Thomas and Portland, and is expected to yield 300 tonnes of plantains per year.
“These farmers have been specifically chosen because of their practices and their access to irrigation services,” said Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Floyd Green, at the virtual launch of the project held at the ministry's Hope Gardens offices in St Andrew on Tuesday, June 22.
While there has been an increase in plantain production over the years, moving from 35,341 in 2011 to 45,927 tonnes in 2020 and notwithstanding the 9,540.84 hectares of plantain currently under production, Green said that there was still a shortage in the supply of plantains.
The agriculture and fisheries minister, challenged The Banana Board to work with the private sector to increase the production of plantain material.
He also urged more farmers to get involved in the planting of plantains, noting that the farming of plantains is an area from which they can get significant returns, and was a great value proposition.
"We expect that our farmers who participate in this programme will be making at least 62 per cent on their investment,” Green said.
With the provision of technical support and on-farm supervision, the ministry said it is expected that through this project there will be an improved quality of plantains being produced as well as an improved availability of plantain on a sustained basis throughout the second year.
Noting that there was an increased demand for Jamaican plantains in places such as the Cayman Island and the United Kingdom, Green said a critical part of the project is to ensure that farmers are producing to certified standards.
“We are going to be implementing a Global GAP certification programme to ensure that our farmers on the ground are implementing the practices that are in keeping with worldwide food safety standards," Green said.
The ministry added that the project aims to provide increased awareness of the importance of irrigation in reducing the effects of climate change among farmers.
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