Minister of Agriculture, Derrick Kellier pointed out that with the Red Stripe technology “We will be moving from a low of 15 tonnes per acre, to about 60 to 70 tonnes. That is tremendous to get the kind of productivity that we need to make it viable.”
The Minister said Jamaica will need about 5,000 acres of cassava across the island, “so that those persons in the baking industry can be satisfied with local supplies, to augment what they do now,” he said.
Mr. Kellier noted that the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), is playing a crucial role in the development of the industry.
Red Stripe has invested $150 million in local cassava production on 403 acres of land at Bernard Lodge, in an effort to reduce much of its imported raw material to its brewery.
This is part of a US$10 million project that the company hopes to complete in about five years, with up to 6,000 persons gaining employment directly and indirectly.
“We really want to make cassava a sustainable farming activity, and I am really impressed with what Red Stripe is doing. It is really impressive; the technology is good, and they have promised to make the technology available, so that RADA will be able to pass it on to the farmers,” the Minister said.
Mr. Kellier said the company is training young people in the application of the technology, and that will increase employment.
He noted that by-products such as flour, animal feeds from the leaf of the cassava, and fuels will be part of the industry, “so nothing from the cassava will go to waste, everything is of some benefit.”
Meanwhile, Managing Director of Red Stripe, Cedric Blair, said in the future, persons will be able to enter into contracts with Red Stripe, but they will have to produce high yields to be competitive.
Red Stripe will be farming five hundred acres, and will buy supplies from another 2000 acres to be produced by small and large farmers.