Farmers sign contracts to plant more red peas in Jamaica

Farmers from St Elizabeth and St Catherine have signed contracts with the Chief Executive Officer of Home Grown Produce Limited, Damion Young, to supply them with the red peas they will be planting, so as to increase local output.

St Catherine farmer, Alfred Tenn (left); CEO of Home Grown Produce Limited, Damion Young (centre); and St Elizabeth farmer, Melody Garwood, sign contract for the planting of more red peas at the launch of the Red Peas Industry Programme in Spaldings, Clarendon, on November 1. Observing are Chief Agronomist at Bodles Research Centre, Alexi Reid (left) and Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon J.C. Hutchinson.
St Catherine farmer, Alfred Tenn (left); CEO of Home Grown Produce Limited, Damion Young (centre); and St Elizabeth farmer, Melody Garwood, sign contract for the planting of more red peas at the launch of the Red Peas Industry Programme in Spaldings, Clarendon, on November 1. Observing are Chief Agronomist at Bodles Research Centre, Alexi Reid (left) and Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon J.C. Hutchinson.

The signing took place at the launch of the Red Peas Industry Programme, in Spaldings, Clarendon, on November 1, by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, J. C. Hutchinson.

Importation of red peas

Hutchinson also presented farmers from Burnt Ground in St Elizabeth with 30 bags of fertiliser in a bid to encourage them to plant more red peas.

“We can grow red peas profitably right here in Jamaica.”

— Hutchinson

This comes against the background that recent data from the Ministry shows that in 2017, a total of 7,247 tonnes of red peas, valued at US$7.2 million, were imported, and in 2018, some 7,642 tonnes, valued at US$8.2 million, were imported, representing an increase of 395 tonnes over the previous year and an increase of US$1 million being spent on the importation of red peas.

High demand

In his address, Hutchinson said there is money to be made by farmers who plant red peas because the local demand is high.

“We can grow red peas profitably right here in Jamaica. We import most of our red peas from a neighbouring CARICOM territory, and my response is that if they can grow it there, we can grow it here,” he told the farmers in attendance.

The Minister said that it is obvious that Jamaicans love and consume a lot of red peas, and the farmers who have signed contracts to produce more red peas must be consistent in their production of the crop.

“This initiative that you have embarked on to resuscitate and increase the production of red peas is, therefore, to be lauded, and you have the full support of the Ministry to strengthen your prospects in achieving your desired goal,” Hutchinson said.