(Jamaica Observer) Four new varieties of tomatoes are to be shortly introduced on the local market to help cut back on the approximately J$8-billion worth of tomato paste imported into the country each year.
The disclosure was made last Wednesday by Ian Hayles, state minister in the Ministry of Agriculture.
“We import, each year, close to J$8 billion in tomato. But we have successfully tested at least four different varieties of tomatoes in the parish of St Elizabeth which have proven to be very successful. Upon the short, medium and long term, we expect a decrease in terms of the level of importation of tomato paste,” said Hayles, who was speaking at the launch of Farmers’ Month at the Jamaica Agricultural Society’s (JAS) office in downtown Kingston.
The junior minister said, like ginger and turmeric, there were many opportunities in tomato production. However, he said that while the country has been producing significant amounts of tomato paste, it has not been able to reduce imports given the types of tomatoes that are grown in the island.
In the meantime, Hayles, pointing out that the country needs to produce more value-added products, disclosed that 150 additional acres of ginger is being planted. This crop, he said, is expected to yield 210 metric tonnes of dried ginger in 2013 to satisfy existing orders and lift national supply by at least 43 per cent or 696 metric tonnes.
“Jamaican ginger is known for its world-class flavour and is positioned in niche markets worldwide. It is estimated to have a global demand of about 21,000 metric tonnes of fresh or 4,200 metric tonnes of dried ginger which is less than four per cent of global trade. Incidentally, we are only able to supply 10 per cent of direct international order for ginger,” said Hayles, pointing out that 350 acres of turmeric was also being planted.