The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries will shortly launch an islandwide, $50 million banana resuscitation programme, Minister Robert Montague has announced.
Mr. Montague says the programme, to be undertaken in collaboration with the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) and the People’s Cooperative (PC) Bank, is aimed at resuscitating some 300 acres of the fruit.
Speaking at the eighth anniversary of the Jamaica Agricultural Society’s (JAS) ‘Eat Jamaican’ campaign, at the Denbigh Show Ground, May Pen, Clarendon, last Friday (November 25), Mr. Montague said the initiative is aimed at reducing Jamaica’s significant expenditure on imported banana products, among other things.
The Minister pointed out that approximately US$3.6 million worth of banana chips were imported last year, and another US$6.3 million worth of the product was imported during the first nine months of 2011.
“That is a situation that we cannot allow to continue. Our farmers know how to produce bananas, our workers know how to prune the bananas and our processors know how to make banana chips,” he said. That is the reason why the Government is pumping $50 million into a programme to resuscitate 300 acres, to produce at an average of 12 tonnes to the acre, he explained.
“And we are tying the farmers to specific processors; so that there is already a market for the production that we ought to be doing,” Mr. Montague said.