3,000 acres of ackee, breadfruit, mangoes for South St James Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is to undertake a programme to drive the production of ackee, breadfruit and mangoes in South St James.

Portfolio Minister Floyd Green, who made the disclosure during the Montpelier Agricultural Show in the parish on Monday, said the initiative, which is to be launched this year, is targeting the planting of 3,000 acres of the crops over the next two years.

Interested farmers are to be provided with planting material free of cost.

Green said the objective is to capitalise on the export demand for the crops.

He noted that ackee, in particular, enjoys worldwide demand, with Jamaica exporting about US$30 million worth of the crop each year.

“So, what we want to do over the next two years is to get 3,000 acres – 1,000 acres of ackee, 1,000 acres of breadfruit and 1,000 acres of mango,” said Green.

“You do the farming; we will provide you with all the planting material free of cost. If you want to get into ackee, if you want to get into breadfruit, if you want to get into mango, we will… give you the technical support,” he told the farmers.

Green said the Government is looking to transform South St James into an agro-economic zone to boost agricultural productivity and foster economic expansion.

The planned move, he said, is in keeping with the ‘New FACE of Food’ campaign which focuses on initiatives aimed at enhancing food security, agribusiness development, climate-smart technologies, and export expansion.

“The prime minister has indicated that one of our strategic priorities is to make Southern St James into an agro-economic zone, so we are going to look at the infrastructure challenges, and we are going to be taking a more targeted approach to South St James in particular,” he said.

He noted that coconut production is being actively promoted, and a pilot project is under way “where we are intercropping coconut with other things like hot pepper”.

Elaborating, he said “It is doing very well. Farmers, if you are interested, we will give you all the planting material free of cost. You will get the coconut plants and the plants to intercrop,” the minister said.

He added that focus is also being placed on revitalising banana production and returning the crop to its former prominence in the parish.

Green said he has tasked the Banana Board to support the farmers by providing inputs such as chemicals, fertiliser and banana varieties that can withstand adverse weather conditions.

The minister commended the St James farmers for their contribution to domestic food production, noting that they have remained resilient despite the challenges of disease and the weather.