Ginger farmers are being given a chance to sell their produce abroad, through an initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, which aims to rebuild a sustainable market for the product.
For years, Jamaican ginger was king until the mid 1990's, when the industry suffered a major decline due to plant pests and disease, namely rhizome rot.
In an interview with JIS News, General Manager of the Ministry's Export Division, Mr. Sylburn Thomas, said as part of the new thrust, the Division would be purchasing the crop directly from farmers between January 11 and March 19, 2010.
He said the produce would be resold to several overseas buyers who have already been identified. "The ones we have targeted that we think will appreciate the Jamaican quality are Japan, Germany, United States and the United Kingdom. Those are the markets that we have given priority to for our 2010 crop. However, as we are able to service these markets, then we will look for other markets," he added.
Mr. Thomas said the Ministry will pay $40 per pound or $88 per kilogram for green ginger, which will then be processed by the Ministry in Kingston. As such, Mr. Thomas said farmers are being discouraged from washing and drying their ginger, as this will have an impact on the Ministry's ability to meet phytosanitary requirements set out by importing countries.
"The accounts that we have developed in these export markets are very quality sensitive and specific to quality requirements, so salmonella and e-coli, we have to control those and we also have to meet the maximum residue level tolerances in these markets," he explained.
Mr. Thomas informed that the Division will deploy trucks to get the crops straight from the field to reduce the need for farmers to travel far distances to sell their ginger.
Farmers who will be selling their ginger to the Export Division will be required to provide basic information for traceability purposes and are expected to be registered with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA). For more information farmers can call the Export Division at 923-7579 or 923-8878.