The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining says it will continue scaling up onion production in St Thomas, even as it notes that farmers there have been mastering the growing of the crop.
Speaking on Friday during the parish’s annual agricultural show at the Rudolf Elder Park in Morant Bay, State Minister in the ministry, Franklin Witter, said for the 2022-2023 fall season, a total of 4,750 tonnes of onions were harvested from 200 hectares that were planted by some 242 farmers.
Additionally, there has, to date, been a 15-20 per cent increase in productivity this year, compared to the corresponding period in 2022.
According to Witter, onion farmers in St Thomas have “shattered” the traditional method of planting four pounds per acre, and have been cultivating six to eight pounds. This he said has resulted in some farmers harvesting up to 40,000 to 45,000 pounds per acre.
An onion field in production.
“As the responsible ministry, we are certainly pleased with what we have witnessed,” Witter said, adding that, “it is clear to see that St Thomas farmers have now mastered the growing of onions successfully.”
He stated that the ministry will be working with key stakeholders to develop a structured pre and post-harvest management system to address the curing, drying and storage of onion bulbs.
This is to include incorporating low-cost drying and storage facilities at strategic locations to enhance shelf-life, sustain market potential, and protect the farmers’ livelihood, the state minister added.
“As we advance, the ministry will also seek to diversify the varieties of onions being planted, to become more high-yielding and disease-tolerant. In addition, land tillage clearance support will continue to be provided under the Production Incentive Programme,” he indicated.
The 22nd staging of the parish show was organised by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) St Thomas office under the theme: ‘Advancing Agriculture through Resilient Farmers: Grow Smart Eat Smart’.