State Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Franklin Witter, has said that, there has been, to date, a 15 to 20 per cent increase in onion production this year compared to the corresponding period in 2022.
He highlighted that prior to the increase, for the 2022/23 fall season, 4,750 tonnes of onions were harvested from 200 hectares planted by some 242 farmers.
Witter was speaking during the 22nd staging of the St. Thomas annual agricultural show at the Rudolf Elder Park in Morant Bay on Friday (June 23).
The event was arranged by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) St. Thomas office under the theme: ‘Advancing Agriculture through Resilient Farmers: Grow Smart Eat Smart’.
According to the State Minister. onion farmers in the parish have “shattered” the traditional method of planting four pounds per acre and have been cultivating six to eight pounds.
This achievement has resulted in some farmers harvesting up to 40,000 to 45,000 pounds per acre.
“As the responsible Ministry, we are certainly pleased with what we have witnessed,” he said, adding that, “it is clear to see that St. Thomas farmers have now mastered the growing of onions successfully.”
Witter informed that the Ministry will be working with key stakeholders to develop a structured pre- and post-harvest management system to address the curing, drying and storage of onion bulbs.
This will include incorporating low-cost drying and storage facilities at strategic locations to enhance shelf-life, sustain market potential and protect the farmers’ livelihood, the State Minister added.
“As we advance, the Ministry will also seek to diversify the varieties of onions being planted to become more high-yielding and disease tolerant. In addition, Land Tillage Clearance support will continue to be provided under the Production Incentive Programme,” he indicated.
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