The island’s major strawberry farmers are to benefit from an allocation of $5 million to assist them in the growth and development of the crop for the 2020/21 season under the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries’ Production Incentive Programme.
The disclosure was made by Consultant Agronomist in Charge of Protected Agriculture at the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Webster McPherson, who said $3 million would go towards providing crop nutrition.
“We’ll also be looking at pest and disease management assistance to the farmers to the tune of about $2 million,” Mr. McPherson said.
Strawberries, which require cooler temperatures, are found in areas in Jamaica in excess of 2000 ft above sea level. These include Guys Hill in St. Catherine, Adams Valley in Manchester, Gordon Town and Newcastle in St. Andrew and sections of Trelawny and St. Mary.
A total of 50,000 pounds of strawberry are being produced per annum, representing 10% of local consumption.
Meanwhile, Mr. McPherson informed that there is tremendous potential for import substitution as local strawberries are now being embraced by purchasers because it tastes better and has a longer shelf life.
The consultant agronomist further stated that a revolving project was started last planting season where 23,500 plantlets valued at $3.5 million were given to farmers, who are expected to return twice the amount of plantlets.
Under the $1.6-billion Production Incentive Programme, strawberry is among nine crops being targeted for increased production. The others include ginger, hot peppers, Irish potatoes, onion, sweet yam, dasheen and cassava.
Over 4,000 farmers are expected to benefit from the programme, directly and indirectly.