Jamaica’s new rice cultivation plan is to increase their relatively insignificant rice production to meet 15 percent of the country’s rice demand in three years.
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Jamaica's New Rice Production Plan
Courtland S. Grant
Jamaica plans to reduce its rice imports by fifteen percent at the end of 2015.
Jamaica’s new rice cultivation plan is to increase their relatively insignificant rice production to
meet 15 percent of the country’s rice demand in three years. According to the Jamaican
Minister of Agriculture, the rice-cultivation plan will reduce Jamaica’s importation of rice by 15
percent when fully implemented. Jamaica currently imports approximately 100,000 metric tons
of rice annually. In 2010, Jamaica’s rice imports from the United States were 26,502 tons
while imports from Guyana and Suriname were 48,754 and 14,440 metric tons respectively.
The remaining 10,000 metric tons were supplied by a number of other countries.
Under a preferential arrangement, Jamaica is committed to purchase 60,000 metric tons of
rice from Guyana per annum. However, when Guyana is unable to supply the agreed
quantity, imports from the United States and other countries make up for this short fall.
The Jamaican Minister of Agriculture, in outlining the rice-cultivation plan, stated that
approximately US$2 million dollars will be invested by the government into the two phased
project. In the first phase, 1,000 hectares will be planted by the end of 2012. In the second
phase another 3,000 hectares will be planted over the period 2013 -2015.
It should be noted a rice-growing project was started in 2009 under the previous government
with an ambitious goal to produce 25 percent of Jamaica’s needs. An experimental farm of 25
acres tested nine rice varieties from Guyana, the United States and the Dominican Republic. A
report states that a few varieties performed well and will now be commercialized. The report
projects that these rice varieties will be able to produce at least five metric tons of paddy rice
per hectare, matching the yields obtained in Guyana. It is not known if the well performing
varieties will be used in the new Minister’s plan.