Jamaica’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green says that the island’s seven agro parks have made the country self-sufficient in many sectors and has also boosted exports.
Products grown include onion, scallion, pepper, assorted fruits and vegetables, yam, ginger, hay, sorghum, and other crops at Plantain Garden River in St Thomas, Amity Hall in St Catherine, and Ebony Park in Clarendon.
“We have eight exporters that are tenants at our 188 Spanish Town Road property that we work with”— Jamaica’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green
Other agro parks are located at Yallahs in St Thomas; New Forest/Duff House on the border of Manchester and St Elizabeth, where the main crops being cultivated are condiments, tubers, fruits and vegetables. Two other parks are at Spring Plain in Clarendon and Spring Gardens in Trelawny.
The Ministry of Agriculture indicates that many farmers/investors produce based on market contracts with organised buyers; however, many move produce through traditional intermediaries (higglers) and other middlemen.
Minister Floyd Green told the Jamaica Observer that although a large proportion of these products enter the local and tourism markets, a significant proportion goes into the export markets; for example, peppers and scallion are sold to agro-processors for the manufacturing and export of sauces.
“We have eight exporters that are tenants at our 188 Spanish Town Road property that we work with.”
The parks also continue to contribute to food security. Said Minister Green: “Generally, the country has reached self-sufficiency in some crops, thus there is no need for imports. Many vegetables and tubers for which Jamaica has reached essential self-sufficiency are grown on the agro parks.”
The Government-owned agro park model is a public private partnership, wherein the Government leases lands to farmers/investors with the infrastructure necessary for production while providing market linkages, food safety programmes, and technical support, both on and off the parks.
The farmers/investors, therefore, are required to fund their individual operations and generally operate profitable agri-businesses ventures. Generally, onions and Irish potatoes form part of the import satisfaction regime.
Implemented nine years ago, agro parks were aimed at modernising Jamaica’s agricultural sector; contributing to reducing the island’s almost US$1-billion food import bill, while increasing exports and creating jobs.
They were projected to realise foreign exchange savings of some $4 billion annually, and provide employment for about 5,000 people.