The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced its partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and several other key stakeholders within the farming industry to revitalise Jamaica’s spice sector to meet current export and domestic demands.
The announcement was made at the official launch of the US Department of Agriculture Food for Progress Jamaica Spices project at the AC Marriot hotel in Kingston earlier today (June 1).
Over the next five years, the US Department of Agriculture Food for progress Jamaica Spices will work to build back the spice sector in Jamaica in order to meet the growing global demand.
“I want to thank the people of United States of America who through the United States Department of Agriculture as provided a federal award of $22.6 million for the implementation of this spice project over the next five years…. This project which will be implemented by ACDI/VOCA will increase the productivity of high-quality Jamaica ginger, turmeric and pimento,” said Dr Ronald Blake, chief of party for the US Department of Agriculture Food for progress Jamaica Spices.
Blake said there is currently a significant global demand for Jamaican spices particularly ginger, turmeric, and pimento.
He noted that this global demand stems from the use of these spices in foods, seasonings, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and nutraceuticals products.
“We have seen in the last couple of years that the requirement in the nutraceuticals heightened with respiratory illnesses. But it is also important to note that ginger and turmeric is playing a key role in pharmaceuticals across the globe,” Blake said.
However, despite the significant demand worldwide, there are some challenges that exist within the country’s spice sector.
According to Blake, there has been a fall in production volumes and rising prices continue to lead overseas spice buyers to source from other countries at considerable cost savings.
“There is a significant fall off in the production especially for ginger and pimento. In fact, we have lost almost 70 per cent of our ginger. Because of this significant decline that as affected price and so competitiveness of spices would have been challenged. Hence, this project was designed to revitalise the spice sector,” Blake noted.
Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining Floyd Green agreed with Blake noting that the lack of access to certain resources would have contributed to the decrease in the country’s spice production.
“There have been significant decreases in our spices sector over the decade and that is due to a number of challenges. Farmers have faced a lack of access to planting material and poor access to finance and while production falls, the demand for spices like ginger, turmeric, pimento has been rising. This is something the Ministry of Agriculture has taken note of,” Green said.
The minister said that through this project the ministry will be working with agencies such as the Rural Agriculture Development Authority (RADA) and the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA) to educate and incorporate farmers from all across the country to ensure that there will be an increase in the production of all three spices.
He also noted that farmers who produce these spices will benefit financially as there is currently a great demand for the products. “It is expected that the project will achieve annual sales of $20.75 million, of which $14.5 million will be realized from exports,” Greene said.
MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT
The USDA Food for Progress Jamaica Spices project will be managed by economic development-focused non-profit ACDI/VOCA. It will support 7,500 local agricultural sector stakeholders, including women, youth, and other marginalised people, involved in the farming of spices.
The project will also aim to improve and expand the trade of ginger, turmeric and pimento products by increasing their quality to meet international standards and connecting farmers and producer organisations with Jamaican and international buyers.
“This project will help diversify livelihoods, strengthen value chains like agriculture to become more resilient… through the project we aim to capitalize on opportunities scaling up successful models and expanding proven tools to create enduring impact,” said Sylvia Megret president and CEO of ACID/VOCA.
The Food for Progress programme helps developing countries and emerging democracies modernise and strengthen their agricultural sectors. Food for Progress has two principal objectives: to improve agricultural productivity and to expand trade of agricultural products.