Jamaican News

Gov’t to Roll out Scotch Bonnet Pepper Programme

The Government is set to roll out a Scotch bonnet pepper programme in North East Manchester in the next few weeks.

This was announced by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. JC Hutchinson during a meeting with Irish Potato Farmers at the Restore Pentecostal Church in Devon, Manchester on May 17.

He explained that the pepper programme will be similar in structure to the National Irish Potato Programme in that farmers will receive seedlings and other inputs upfront, with payments being made when crops are reaped.

“I consider this area as the hub where there is good climate and it has the greenhouses that will be utilized for distribution of pepper seedlings to farmers in a similar way to what obtains for the Irish potato and onion programme,” Mr. Hutchinson said.

Minister Hutchinson said farmers will have to be a member of an organisation, under the umbrella of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) to benefit from the initiative.

Additionally, technical support will be provided by the various stakeholders such as RADA and marketing support will be provided through the Potato and Onion Producers Association with whom farmers can enter into contractual arrangements.

“All the farmers would need to find is the labour. The ministry would also help with securing markets for the produce and after reaping, all input costs would be subtracted and they would get the profits,” Mr. Hutchinson said.

He added that the government has some 5000 acres of farm land in South Manchester.

“Where there are idle government owned lands, we will put farmers on it to work. We are dedicated to seeing that all struggling farmers get a push-start and providing the basic inputs that will (help) them (become) productive individuals,” Hutchinson said.

For his part, Member of Parliament for North East Manchester and Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw expressed appreciation to Newport-Fersan for its custom designed fertilizer for Irish potato.

He encouraged the farmers to put in place the kind of agricultural techniques to ensure the greatest yields possible.

Some 1,508 farmers have been involved in the planting of 352 hectares of Irish potato in Manchester of which 1,955 tonnes have been reaped to date. Overall, 3,431 farmers have planted 930 hectares of Irish potato across the island with 669 hectares reaped producing 10,831 tonnes of Irish potato.

Article by: Barbara Ellington
Photo from: www.jis.gov.jm

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