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Jamaica must re-establish its prominence in the global spice industry, says minister Green

By Mickella Anderson

KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – The time has come for Jamaica to re-establish the prominence of its renowned spices – turmeric, ginger and pimento – on the global stage, says minister of agriculture, fisheries and mining, Floyd Green.

Speaking on Thursday, June 1, during the launch of ‘Food for Progress Jamaica Spices’, a partnership with the United States of America to revitalise Jamaica’s spice sector, Green said that high on the list of things for which the island is known is its food.

“It comes down to our distinctive spices … that have special characteristics that, no matter where they try to grow them in the world, they cannot have the makeup and the quality of the Jamaican spices. And that is why, world over, there is a search for Jamaican spices,” Green said.

He pointed out, however, that over the years, there have been several challenges experienced by local stakeholders. Among these, the minister noted, are lack of access to clean planting material, poor access to financial support, and a lack of climate change mitigation efforts.

“And while our production falls, the demand for things like ginger, turmeric, and pimento has been rising,” he further stated.

Consequently, Green said the ministry began introducing several initiatives to address some of the challenges.

“In fact, we have been working to rapidly produce and distribute clean seedlings to our farmers, especially in relation to ginger, to treat the threat of disease. We’ve had extensive support from the Scientific Research Council in that regard, and we have been reaping some benefits,” he indicated.

Ginger production, for example, rose last year by about 25.8 percent, when compared to 2021. There was also a 234 percent increase in pimento harvesting, which climbed to 338,000 kilogrammes. This output generated US$2.4 million from exports, and $34 million from sales to the domestic market.

Minister Green maintained, however, that much more needs to be done.

“We have to accelerate the pace of expansion. We have to intensify our work with our farmers and our reach, and we have to take back pride of place in our major export market, which is the United States. In order to do that, and to do that in the shortest possible time, we need partners, and we need investment. And it’s against that backdrop that I’m very happy that we’re … launching this project,” the minister said.

Food for Progress Jamaica Spices is a five-year undertaking, which runs until 2027, that aims to revitalise the island’s spice industry by increasing yields of turmeric, ginger, and pimento, cultivated on 2,250 hectares of land, by 50 percent. This is to generate overall projected sales of US$20.75 million, with annual exports accounting for US$14.5 million of this target. In addition, the project will support 7,500 agricultural-sector stakeholders, including women and youth.

Chief of party for the programme, Dr Ronald Blake, outlined that the project will address the challenges of the spice sector by also improving the quality of the selected products to meet international standards and expand export. The programme will also focus on integrating climate-resilient farming systems that support farmers to use improved planting material and management practices.

Food for Progress Jamaica Spices is a project of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food for Progress Programme, which helps developing countries and emerging democracies to modernise and strengthen their agricultural sectors.



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