Local Supply of Fresh Produce Not Affected By Exports

Marketing Consultant at the Ministry of Agriculture,  Dr. Derrick Deslandes, makes a point during a JIS ‘Think Tank’  on  August 14.

Marketing Consultant at the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Derrick Deslandes, makes a point during a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on August 14.

As the island continues to experience a longer than usual dry spell, the Ministry of Agriculture  is assuring the public that its buyers mission that seeks to attract overseas importers of local fresh produce, through the Agricultural Competitiveness Programme, will not affect local supply.

Marketing Consultant at the Ministry, Dr. Derrick Deslandes, says that Jamaicans can still expect their usual supply of local produce, as systems have been put in place to address the issue.

“The development of the agro-parks is an attempt to address this … and we have so far established nine agro-parks, six of which are crop based,” he said, at a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’.

 “The drought has been a wakeup call and the agro-parks is one way to address that, but the programme has to be extended beyond the agro parks [because] most farmers who produce for the local market do not have access to water [and] whenever there is a shortage of rain, they are affected,”  Dr. Deslandes added.

To  deal with the dry spell,  he informed that there are several programmes within the Ministry that are geared toward water harvesting and water storage as a means of providing farmers with the ability to sustain themselves.


“In some of the areas, such as Trelawny, they are putting in black tanks and small scale irrigation schemes to try to improve the farmers’ access to water. They are also looking at ways to harvest more water so when there is rainfall … they catch that water, because the reality is that even if we get a very heavy shower, it goes to waste,” he said.

Dr. Deslandes noted that there are plans to put another 20,000 acres of irrigated land into production.

Fresh produce buyers from the United States, specifically Miami, visited the island recently and toured the agro parks at Plantain Garden River and Yallahs in St. Thomas; Amity Hall in St. Catherine; Ebony Park and Spring Plains in Clarendon; and Duff House in St. Elizabeth and met with the farmers.

Coming out of those meetings, one buyer, Carlos Capote of JC Tropicals, said he has  placed an order for guineps.

In the meantime, Mr. Deslandes said the sustainability of the programme will ultimately depend on the relationships formed between the farmers and buyers.

“The sustainability is a relationship that buyers establish with farmers… [and] is on two levels. One, to train and improve the farmer’s ability to grow his business and two, to improve the ability of the technocrats to manage the process and to provide the linkage and information that is necessary,” he noted.

Training, Mr. Deslandes added,  is another important component of the programme that will ensure its longevity.


Last month, the Ministry along with one of the programme’s key partners, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), trained marketing officers within the Ministry as well as Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) personnel in how to access U.S. databases, research trending crops in the U.S. at any time, research price points and indentify gaps in the U.S. supply chain that Jamaica can fill.

Other partners include: RADA, National Irrigation Commission (NIC), Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) and the Agro-Investment Corporation (AIC).

Mr. Deslandes also revealed that plans are underway to create a database that can be accessed by overseas buyers,  which will allow them to contact local farmers.

Published Date: 
Wednesday, August 19, 2015