Good Prospects For Fresh Produce Exports

KINGSTON (JIS) -- Minister of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, says there are good prospects for an increase in fresh produce exports coming out of talks with buyers in major markets in the United States and Britain.

“We have made significant progress in the British market, through our collaboration with the London Fresh Produce Consortium,” he said, adding that the Ministry is in dialogue with importers in Florida.

He was addressing an exporters’ forum hosted by the Plant Quarantine Division at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, on Tuesday, June 2.

The event formed part of week-long activities to mark Plant Quarantine Week, from May 30 to June 5, under the theme: ‘Plant Quarantine: Facilitating Trade…Securing Jamaica’s Agriculture’.

The Minister hailed the work of Plant Quarantine Division in safeguarding the integrity of Jamaican exports.

He noted that the Division operates two export complexes in Kingston and Montego Bay, which are “one stop shops,” providing a suite of services to the stakeholders for the export and import of agricultural produce.

“The branch also supports exporters of agricultural produce by providing information, preparing market access reports and pest risk analyses and inspecting and certifying produce according to the standards of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) of which Jamaica is a signatory,” the Minister added.

The Plant Quarantine Division inspected and certified over US$62 million worth of agricultural produce for export during 2014.

Minister Kellier said the entity’s work will become even more critical in light of the growing global demand for Jamaican produce, particularly for non-traditional crops such as papaya, cut flowers, winter vegetables, and Tilapia freshwater fish.

He noted that the market of these items continues to expand, with demand outstripping the country’s ability to supply.

“If we are to improve our ability to meet the demand, we must improve our consistency of supply, increase certification of our produce and direct marketing relationships, which would actually render our produce more competitive,” the Minister noted.

He informed that the Government, with the support of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), is building Jamaica’s export platform to facilitate the sustained expansion of exports.

“Critically, we are training our farmers/exporters, exposing them to international business practices, and taking them directly into the market where we create linkages with buyers and distributors,” he said.

The Plant Quarantine Division, which falls under the Ministry of Agriculture’s  Technical Services Directorate, is responsible for leading Jamaica’s first line of defence against the introduction of exotic pests and diseases.

The unit is mandated to ensure that only the highest quality, pest-free cut flowers and fresh produce are exported from and imported into the island.

Tuesday’s forum included representatives from the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO); Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA); the Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA); fresh produce exporters; and airlines.

Published Date: 
Wednesday, July 1, 2015