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Jamaica Plan to Reduce Rice Imports by 2015

04 October 2012
USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

JAMAICA - Jamaica plans to reduce its rice imports by fifteen per cent at the end of 2015.

Jamaica’s new rice cultivation plan is to increase their relatively insignificant rice production to meet 15 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent 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 commercialised.

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.

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