Export earnings in agricultural sector up 8.4 per cent

THE agricultural sector last year realised an 8.4 per cent increase in export earnings valuing US$238 million, up from US$216 million in 2019.

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green made the disclosure during his contribution to the 2021/2022 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives last week.

He said the increase occurred despite the challenges from the coronavirus pandemic and extreme weather conditions.

Green said that yams earned US$37 million from export, which represented an increase of 24 per cent; ackees earned US$31 million, up seven per cent over the corresponding period; while sauces earned US$29 million, representing an increase of 23 per cent over 2019.

“If you look at sugar or cocoa, you may say our exports are in decline, but you have to look at the new face of agriculture, you have to look at the new winners, the new face of food,” he said.

Turning to the exportation of mangoes, Green explained that in 2020 more than 9,000 boxes of mangoes were exported when compared to 1,300 boxes in 2019.

He said that already, more than 2,000 boxes of mangoes have been sent to the United States and the United Kingdom this year.

“The Plant Quarantine [/Produce Inspection] Branch has submitted the requisite documentation and they have received official clearance for Jamaica to recommence export to the United Kingdom (UK) for commodities such as mangoes, pineapples, coconuts, citrus, bananas, apples, papaya and guava,” Green said.

“Working with our partners in the UK, we are now also able to send yams, sweet potatoes, coco, dasheen and hot peppers without requiring a plant pest declaration because they are now considered low-risk. So all our exporters need is a ‘pest-free’ certificate from the Plant Quarantine and they can ship [those produce] to the United Kingdom,” he added.

He noted that the potential market is US$175 million and called “on the private sector to see this as an opportunity to invest in agriculture, ramp up production, and let us satisfy some of those markets”.

Additionally, Green said talks are underway with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade regarding market access for pork, sea cucumbers, crab, oysters and conch, to China.

“We now await their requirements but the discussions have been going well, and we see a potential US$30-million waiting for us there,” he said.


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