Addressing stakeholders at the launch of the 2018/2019 Irish Potato Programme at Christ Church, Christiana, Manchester, Mr. Shaw noted that the demand for table Irish potatoes in Jamaica was 34 million pounds per year.
He encouraged the farmers to practice climate-smart agriculture, to help grow the sector in a sustainable way.
“If we have the appropriate systems such as irrigation, Irish potato can be grown year round rather than the two times of year we do it now. People eat Irish potato year round. We have steady tropical condition all year,” he stated.
“We are not taking advantage of climate-smart initiatives such as drip irrigation which is one of the solutions which as government, we are going to find a way even to subsidize those who want to get into it,” he added.
Minister Shaw also urged the Rural Agriculture Development Authority extension officers to be “out in the field on a regular basis.”
“Through the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) programme, you will get extension aides, young persons who will get preliminary training to equip them to work alongside the extension officers in the field with farmers, to improve their productivity,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Mr. Shaw pointed out that former sugar-cane lands can be used to cultivate other appropriate crops.
He added that he was in the process of deciding how much land would remain in sugarcane and what would be made available to farmers to produce other crops. He noted that the available lands will be leased and not sold to farmers.
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