News Date: June 29 2016
Three years ago, Jamaica was producing just six per cent of the onions consumed locally. Now it's meeting 10-12 per cent of demand, but that's still around a quarter of the levels agriculture officials aim to reach.
The Ministry of Agriculture's onion development programme launched in 2013 has reaped "significant amounts" of the tuber mostly from farms in St Catherine and Clarendon, according to the ministry's director general, Don McGlashan.
For the next crop year, which kicks off in the fall, the target is 17 per cent. Three years after, the aim is to more than double the 2016-17 ratio.
"We want to ensure, if we do things right, that by 2020, we have 40 per cent of demand being supplied by local production," said McGlashan.
"If we reach there, we will be saving at least US$2 million in import substitution. We will be generating farm gate price of about $5 million and the involvement of about 300-400 farmers in the programme with seasonal employment for at least 2,000 workers," he said.
Approximately 10 million kilograms of onion is consumed annually in Jamaica, with nine million of that amount imported at a cost of US$4 million, the said agriculture ministry official.
While conceding that the agro park system did not supply most of the improved production, McGlashan said the crop could, in fact, be boosted with increased participation in that programme.
"To get the numbers where we want to go, we really need to get the agro parks more involved," he said.