Acting Agriculture Minister, Derrick Kellier (right), with Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Donovan Stanberry.
As agriculture continues to lead the recovery of the Jamaican economy, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has engaged credit unions and other financial entities, to provide assistance to Irish potato farmers, through the introduction of a crop lien facility. Supported by firm marketing contracts, the Ministry is pushing the crop lien mechanism, as a mainstream strategy for financing agricultural production. Acting Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Derrick Kellier, told the launch of the National Irish Potato Expansion Programme yesterday, “this is the model which is to be used in the development of Agro-parks, to address the challenges associated with financing production. “What this means is that the farmers will have access to credit from these institutions and will not be required to provide the usual collateral,” he explained, adding that, “the marketing contracts between the farmers and the traders to remit to the financial institutions loan payments, and the Ministry’s intensive programme, all serve to mitigate the risk to the financial institutions,” he said. Mr. Kellier argued that in launching the new Irish potato crop year, the Ministry anticipates increased production, even as it continues experiments with new varieties that are suitable for agro processing. He noted the support of the Colombian government in this area, assuring that, “once we have identified promising varieties through these experiments, we will take the same approach to ramping up value added potato products.” The aim is to plant 1,200 hectares of Irish potatoes for the 2014/15 crop year, with the goal of meeting the full demand (15 million kilograms) for table Irish potatoes. The Minister outlined that in order to reach this target, a number of measures will be employed, including: the establishment of four farmer field schools, and four demonstration plots; two farm tours; strengthening marketing contracts between farmers and buyers; expanding the seed production programme to 44.4 hectares; purchasing and distributing 250 soil and water quality PH kits to extension personnel and trained community leaders. The Ministry will also provide chemicals for 40 per cent of the requirement per hectare for up to 2 hectares per farmers. “This year, we will also deliberately continue to engage youth up to 35 years old and women in the programme, and will provide grant assistance to over 180 participants,” Mr. Kellier said.
Last modified onFriday, 21 November 2014 13:27