(MENAFN- Caribbean News Global)
By Twila Wheelan
KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – Food for Progress Jamaica Spices, a four-year undertaking aimed at revitalising the island's spice industry, will be launched Thursday, June 1. The project launch will take place at the AC Hotel by Marriott in New Kingston, beginning at 10:30 a.m.
The project, which is slated to run until 2027, is aimed at increasing yields of turmeric, ginger, and pimento on 2,250 hectares of land by 50 percent, resulting in $20.7 million in sales and $14.5 million in annual export sales. It will support 7,500 agricultural-sector actors, including women and youth.
Chief of Party for Food for Progress Jamaica Spices, Dr Ronald Blake, told JIS News that the initiative seeks to address the growing global spice demand for use in food, seasonings, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and nutraceuticals.
“With their distinctive flavours and characteristics, Jamaican spices have been historically recognised as premium products. However, falling production volumes and rising prices are leading US spice buyers to source ginger, turmeric, and pimento from other countries at considerable cost savings,” he noted.
Dr Blake told JIS News that the sector has faced several challenges over the years, including lack of access to clean planting material, low production volumes and a fragmented farmer base.
These issues, he noted:“Have led to progressively decreasing production volumes, low productivity, and significantly high levels of unmet demand for local and export produce and value-added products,” he said.
Food for Progress Jamaica Spices will address the challenges by improving the production and quality of the selected spices to meet international standards and expand export.
Another critical aspect of the programme is integrating climate-resilient farming systems that support farmers to use improved planting material and management practices.
“Farmers will receive extension support for diversified farming systems to mitigate market and climate risks. This will cover new climate-smart technologies and environmentally sustainable farming systems,” Dr Blake noted.
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.
Food for Progress has two principal objectives – to improve agricultural productivity and to expand trade in agricultural products.
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