Jamaica developing spice industry

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday December 30, 2010 – The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, through its Export Division, is undertaking a spice development programme, which will target a number of spice crops for expansion and export.

General Manager of the Export Division, Sylburn Thomas, says Jamaica has a reputation for quality spices and the country is now trying to develop the industry.

He told JIS News that the initiative is “fairly rudimentary at this stage, but we are trying to utilise our local genetic resources to develop spices (such as) nutmeg, ginger, pimento, turmeric and cinnamon in the first instance.”

“We are now getting the right planting material to introduce to the farmers, doing site selection in the right geographic locations and, over time, the processing facilities,” he explained.

Currently, assistance is being provided for farmers to increase the production of ginger, including technical demonstrations, training, as well as economic incentives to expand output.

“We are also looking at a nursery programme in which we supply clean, disease-free planting material to the industry so we can combat the ginger rhizome rot disease,” Thomas added.

He said the government is providing funding for the research and commercial production of the planting material, which would then be sold to the farmers at a subsidised rate.

In addition, the Export Division is in discussion with suppliers to set up a centralised processing facility for ginger, including a steam distillation plant as well as a slicing machine.

“We are also looking at washers and a steam dryer so that way, we can maintain the quality and integrity of the product and generate greater value for the farmers in the country,” Thomas said.

A centralised processing facility will also be developed for the turmeric market in Jamaica and a nursery facility will be set up for nutmeg in the northeastern parish of St Mary.

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