Jamaican banana industry adopts new high yield cultivar
Honduran Foundation for Agricultural Research (FHIA) scientist Dr Philip Rowe, developed the cultivar which is expected to create a sustainable value-added market within three years.
Jamaican Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke said the new variety would deliver 30% increased cost efficiency.
"This is exactly what the industry will need to be able to supply (banana) chip factories and other agri-businesses with fruits to extend the value chain and build a strong sustainable domestic market," he was quoted as saying.
He expressed concern about a worrying trend in the local banana industry as Jamaica had been importing "more and more banana chips".
In 2010, the country imported banana chips valued at US$3.7 million, while in 2011, this figure more than doubled to US$8.4 million.
"This must not happen. This is a travesty, especially as this signals that we are eating more and more chips, but from foreign farmers, while our local farmers are struggling to eke out a decent living."
He said the new banana variety could increase production to 120,000 metric tons (MT) by 2020, following the havoc which Black Sigatoka disease has caused on the country's plantations.
Clarke officially opened the FHIA plant nursery and demonstration plots where farmers will be able to purchase new crop varieties.
Two similar nurseries have also been opened at the Orange River Agricultural Station in St Mary and Knockalva Agricultural School in Hanover with seven deomonstration plots for farmer to learn more about growing the cultivar.
Clarke said the nurseries had been possible through a European Union grant to the Banana Board under the Banana Resusitation Loan programme.
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