Site logo

Yam project aims to triple export earnings

State agencies Jampro and the Jamaica Social Investment Fund, JSIF, are partnering on a project aimed at tripling the quantity of yams Jamaica sells on the international market.

Currently, Jamaica earns some US$36 million, or $5.6 billion in local currency, from the export of yellow yam, which is the most popular variety, but groundwork carried out by Jampro shows that the country can increase its share of the US$190-million international yam export market to US$120 million.

Jamaica remains one of the destinations for the export of yams from the Latin America and Caribbean region, while countries like Nigeria and Ghana dominate exports from West African. The ground produce fetches about US$2,147 per tonne.

Spurred by the initial findings, the two agencies will be developing a five-year strategy for increasing the production, competitiveness and export of Jamaican yams, for which a consultant is being hired.

The programme will be carried out under the Rural Economic Development Initiative, called REDI II, under which $20 million has been dedicated to crafting the yam strategy.

“Jampro has put forward a request for us to look at the sector’s yam exports,” said JSIF Managing Director Omar Sweeney. “What we understand is that there is much more market share that we can capitalise on,” he said.

There are 28,000 yam farmers across Jamaica, mainly in the parishes of Trelawny, Clarendon and Manchester, where the growing of yams is most prevalent. The consultant will be required to engage with the farmers, conduct surveys with institutions such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Mining, the Ministry of Industry, Investment & Commerce, Bureau of Standards Jamaica, Export-Import Bank of Jamaica and Agri-Investment Corporation.

It’s all aimed at improving the productivity, research and development, logistics, and local and international marketing of yellow yam.

“Our farmers mainly grow our yams on the hillside, but our research might suggest that we find more efficient ways to grow the product to maximise on quantity,” said Sweeney. “We may also need to put more effort behind the traceability of the product and certifications for our farmers,” he said.

So far, some of the issues identified include falling production, low access to finance and investment, and lack of commercially driven R&D.

Over the medium term, the state agencies hope to increase the number of farmers growing yams and the varieties of the crop.

Up to 2021, Jamaica was producing 185,000 metric tonnes of the tuber, 88 per cent of which was yellow yams, while the rest were Lucea, negro, sweet and St Vincent yams. Only 20 per cent of the yellow yam is exported, and its mostly sold to the United Kingdom and North America.

“All the information gathered will be used to develop a strategy that can move us from the US$36 million to US$120 million [in exports] over the next five years. This will also drive the development of particular policies within the ministries.” Sweeney said.

Read More


  • No comments yet.
  • Add a comment