Minister Kellier was speaking at the signing of a lease agreement with Red Stripe, which will provide the company with access to 250 acres of lands in Cheesefield, St. Catherine for the cultivation of cassava. The signing was held at company’s Spanish Town Road offices on March 10.
“The lease agreement represents another significant step in the nation’s drive to expand the production and use of locally produced foods. This initiative by Red Stripe, has now provided a market-driven demand for production, and has opened a window of opportunity for our hard working cassava farmers,” Minister Kellier said.
Last year, the Ministry and Red Stripe signed a lease agreement for 36.2 acres of land at Bernard Lodge, St. Catherine to facilitate the pilot of the company’s multi-million dollar Project Grow cassava initiative.
The pilot is targeting some 500 acres of land for cultivation over an 18-month period with some US$1 million earmarked.
Implementation of the project forms part of moves by Red Stripe to replace 20 per cent of imported inputs, primarily barley, used in the brewing of its globally renowned flagship product, Red Stripe Beer, by 2016.
As part of the project, Red Stripe plans to train and employ 2,400 persons in cassava production over the next five years.
Minister Kellier said the Ministry is supporting the cassava project through services provided by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), in collaboration with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI).
He is urging farmers to increase production to supply cassava to Red Stripe. “For us to attain the kind of success we need, we need to at least double our productivity levels. With good agronomic practices and irrigation, productivity can be achieved,” he said.
Chairman of Red Stripe, Richard Byles, said the cassava initiative “is a model project.”
“It meets the economic demands of the country. It substitutes for an imported product, it employs, especially young people trained by Red Stripe, and it is a partnership that has been forged,” he said.
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