Jamaica – The Government, in partnership with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), has invested US$230,000 for a pilot programme on Climate Resilience that will expand and upgrade the seed storage facility at the Bodles Research Station in St. Catharine.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Floyd Green, said that the facility will house the best quality seeds for vegetables, cover crops, field crops and legumes.
“This will be a major focus for the new financial year as the Crop Breeding Unit at Bodles ramps up its seed testing and [evaluation] capacity and protocols for the multiplication of specialty seeds, especially organic seeds, as we go for the organic market,” he said.
Minister Green was making his contribution to the 2021/22 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Wednesday (May 12).
He contended that if Jamaica is to become truly food secure “we have to start at the source”, which are seeds.
“Issues regarding our seed stock, importation of seeds and the development and adoption of new varieties are critical to the path towards food security. It is for that reason that we are fast-tracking our implementation on the National Seed Policy laid in this House in 2019,” he said.
He informed that a critical area of focus for the Ministry over the next two years is the establishment of a certified out-grower scheme for commercial seed production. This will include registering and certifying seed producers, developing protocols and identifying suitable tracks of land and facilities for commercial seed production.
Minister Green said the Government has heard the concerns expressed by farmers about the quality of some imported seeds and is working towards addressing the situation.
“Through our Research and Extension team, with support from the Agricultural Land Management Division, we will be partnering with local seed suppliers to evaluate new commercial crop varieties at our research stations and follow-up field demonstration plots on farmers’ holdings to track the performance of these crop varieties. This will provide us with early information on seed performance and inform recommendations for the suitability of the varieties for growing areas and inform farmers of best practices,” he said.