Find Agriculture expertise in Jamaica
Agriculture, forestry and fisheries contribute 6% to Jamaica’s GDP (2010). Despite contributing less to the economy than other sectors, agriculture is an important employer, supporting 20% of the population in 2009. In the same year, agricultural land accounted for a significant 41.5% of total land area. The main agricultural products are sugarcane, bananas, coffee, citrus, yams, ackees, poultry, goats and milk. Sugarcane, or sugar when processed, has traditionally been the number one foreign currency earner in the agricultural sector. The industry is structured around nine sugar estates, five of which have rum distilleries. After alcohol, sugar was the most profitable agricultural export in 2010, generating US$44,247,000. Another important crop is coffee, primarily the globally renowned Blue Mountain brand, much of which goes to its main export market in Japan. The majority of citrus production on the island is dedicated to sweet oranges, with the rest accounted for by grapefruit, ortanique and ugli. The country has also seen an expansion in the livestock sector, primarily cattle, poultry and dairy.
A new information system – the Jamaica Agriculture Market Information System – was launched in 2010 to assist producers, purchasers, consumers and distributors. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is the main public sector body.
In the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report (2012-13) Jamaica ranked 34th in the world (out of 144 countries) in terms of its agricultural policy costs, with a value of 4.3 out of 7, above the world mean of 3.9. This placed it one above the United Kingdom and four below regional counterpart Barbados, with a value of 4.4.
The state is making efforts to revitalise the dairy sector. Additionally, with funds from the European Union, the government is working on supporting the banana industry. They aim to promote sustainable development in the traditional banana growing areas of the country, through the diversification of income generating opportunities by promoting agricultural and non-agricultural activities, whilst also encouraging strategic alliances that support development in the rural areas. The National Irrigation Development Project, supported by the state, is researching the current situationand putting forward proposals for future projects to be implemented.