Portland farmers are set to boost pineapple production for the parish and the country by extension, following the launch of the pineapple production component of the USAID-funded Ja REEACH II livelihood expansion programme on June 22, 2018 at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE), Spring Gardens Farm in Portland.
CASE through the collaboration with Ja REEACH II project and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority, will target 90 farmers over three years to produce pineapple targeting the local market for fresh and value-added consumption. The project will commence with 140, 000 suckers and six farmers who were provided with a total of 30,000 pineapple suckers and other input supplies. The remainder of the suckers will be planted on the CASE commercial farm.
The Ja REEACH II livelihood expansion programme investment is valued at approximately J$6 million. The planting material distributed, the MD2 variety known for its flavour, texture and richness in vitamin C – satisfies the highest quality standards in the market. According to CASE President Dr. Derrick Deslandes, “we are looking at not just expanding pineapple production but to move into the agro processing space as well”.
In addition to pineapple production the livelihood programme will also address climate change adaptation, train farmers and [CASE] students in soil conservation, support agro-processing and increase income generation for farmers and community at large.
The success of the programme is hinged on the sustainable design according to Livelihood Expansion Project Manager, Collie Clarke. “We provide famers with all that is required to produce the crop for the first year. The plan is that at the end of the first year, the farmers will be able to continue production going forward. New farmers, as the project expands will be provided with inputs as well. The expected yield per plant is 4-5 lbs per fruit and in the coming years this will improve”. The programme will also be expanded to St. Thomas and St. Mary we expect by next year this time we will double the capacity.
“This opportunity is a once in a lifetime for me as a farmer. I am looking forward to better income and good training for land preparation and how to plant pineapples. This is really good for Portland as it will improve the lives of the farmers here”, expressed Headley James, one of the beneficiaries of the programme.