Jamaica considers commercial rice production

KINGSTON, Jamaica, February 2, 2009 – A decision on whether Jamaica can begin the growing of rice on a commercial scale is to be made in another six months.

Minister of Agriculture Dr. Christopher Tufton said that investigations were being carried out on nine plant varieties at the Bodles Research Station, and a preliminary determination would be reported to him shortly.

“In another three months or so, we will know how viable this is. If it’s not viable, we may not be in a position to promote it. If it is viable, then we will. Once we’re clear on it, certainly within six months, you will see us promoting it among farmers in those critical rice growing areas,” he said.

Dr Tufton explained that investigations will include looking at the traditional growing areas to see what is happening and the preparations on the ground, therefore, discussions will have to be held with various agencies to come to a final position.

“So the experts we have here will have to help develop best practices in that area and we will provide the training for the farmers,” he said, adding that assistance will be coming from several countries within the region, as well as extra regionally. “We’re looking for the best practices wherever we can find them.”

The Agriculture Minister said that experts would be brought in from Guyana, Brazil, China, Africa and the Dominican Republic.

The project has also received private sector attention. Jamaica Broilers, in collaboration with the Ministry, has already earmarked 150 acres of land for production. Twenty-five acres are currently in production, which will aid the Ministry of Agriculture to evaluate the commercial element of the project.

The varieties of rice being examined are from Guyana, the United States and the Dominican Republic.