Multi-billion-dollar project to boost spice production locally – Green Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining has embarked on a multi-billion-dollar project to develop several local spices over the next five years.

The project is being done at a total cost of US$22,604,770, and is to be executed through the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA), with the support of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Portfolio Minister, Floyd Green, said the ministry intends, through the project, to cultivate at least 100 acres of pimento.

“In fact, this year we would have distributed about 7,000 pimento plants to help drive our pimento production,” said Green during his address at the Spur Tree Spices Jamaica ‘Spice Up Di Ting’ Launch held at the Jamaica Promotions Corporation’s (JAMPRO) Kingston office last week.

Ginger and turmeric were also named as targeted spices for development under the project.

“We are working under that project to bring back significant growth in our ginger sector and our turmeric sector,” Green declared.

Continuing, he said: “If you don’t know, we have the best turmeric in the word.

“Again, it was largely harvested from the wild, and we are now setting up nurseries to ensure that we can distribute these plants,” Green explained.

Over the years, according to Green, there have been some challenges with preserving the authenticity and production of scotch bonnet peppers.

He said the Government is actively investing in addressing such issues.

“We have invested significant sums in relation to Bodles (Research Station in St Catherine) to establish two brand new greenhouses to really look at the rapid multiplication scheme for our scotch bonnet seeds,” Green informed.

Additionally, the investment increased seed production from 20,000 seeds in 2022, to 50,000 in 2023.

Similarly, Green highlighted that a new greenhouse was established at the Montpelier Research Station. This, he said, is aimed at driving the production of red pepper, as well as increasing the number of seeds that are supplied to farmers and companies.

Meanwhile, Green said the ministry is collaborating with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) to drive the rapid multiplication of seeds by establishing a database and seed technology facility and training 25 persons at an approximate cost of US$1 million.

“We want to ensure that we maintain that authentic scotch bonnet flavour profile. You can’t do it unless you have the database. You can’t do it unless you are recording the germplasms. You can’t do it unless you know exactly what is happening with your seed pool,” Green indicated.

He noted that there has also been significant growth in onion production.