Nigel Wright (right) displays Irish potatoes reaped from his farm in Hounslow, St. Elizabeth, to (from left) Member of Parliament for South West St. Elizabeth, the Hon Floyd Green, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon J.C. Hutchinson; and Nelson Mandela, farmer, during a tour of his farm on March 10, 2017.
In response to Government’s target of achieving self-sufficiency in table Irish potato in 2017, farmers in St. Elizabeth have increased their cultivation of the staple with some 60 hectares planted in the December 2016 to January 2017 period.
Speaking at an Irish Potato Production Post Harvest Seminar and Study Tour in Hounslow, St. Elizabeth, on March 10, Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J. C. Hutchinson, said that according to a Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) report the volume of Irish potatoes planted in St. Elizabeth has quadrupled, compared to the similar period last year where 15.8 hectares were planted.
Under the National Irish Potato Programme, the Ministry aims to meet the local demand of 15 million kilogrammes per year for table Irish potato through the planting of 1,200 hectares of the tuber for the 2016/2017 season.
Overall, the total cost of the programme will be $1b with some $71.3 million spent, to date, on the purchase of seeds and fertiliser. In addition, the Ministry, through RADA, will be providing $400m towards technical support for the programme.
Minister Hutchinson encouraged the farmers to continue to increase their production of Irish potatoes while lauding them for being the highest producers of pineapples, peanuts, condiments and vegetables in the country.
Noting that irrigation was available on the lands at Hounslow, Minister Hutchinson emphasised the importance of all the lands being put under production to ensure attainment of Jamaica’s food security and urged the land owners to offer the unutilised lands for lease to farmers.
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