MONTEGO BAY, Feb. 19 (JIS): Agriculture, Labour and Social Security Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, says major developments are to take place shortly in the Jamaica banana industry, with an emphasis on production for the export market.
Addressing the opening of the Hague Agricultural and Livestock Show in Falmouth, Trelawny, on February 18, Mr. Kellier said the developments would include putting more lands into banana cultivation, in order to take advantage of a thriving market in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Kellier said while on a recent visit to the United Kingdom, discussions were held with major stakeholders with a view of getting more Jamaican produce, mainly ripe and green bananas, into that market.
“I can report very good news. Coming out of our trip to England, there are expressions of interest from three major importers of bananas, ripe and green, to which we have started to respond,” the Minister said.
He added that emphasis will be placed on getting more idle lands into banana production, with over 381 hectares of land being targeted.
“We will provide input assistance through the All Island Banana Growers Association (AIBGA) from a special credit scheme. The Banana Board will be intensifying its programme geared towards training farmers to increase their traceability and certification standards in the 2015/16 fiscal year,” the Minister said.
He noted that St. Mary is currently Jamaica’s leading banana-producing parish, and that efforts will be made to bring sections of western Jamaica back into banana production.
“We urge farmers to be a part of this development and to work with us to ensure that we have the productive capacity and the output to serve these markets that are emerging,” he told the gathering.