Yam farmers and investors are being urged to come up with innovative ways to process and package the tuber for export.
Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Pearnel Charles Jr gave the charge while speaking at the official launch of the Hague Agricultural and Industrial Show in Falmouth, Trelawny, on February 9.
“Everyone wants a piece of what makes Usain run so fast. It is a gem in our hands. It is a diamond that we have to utilise to benefit the country,” Charles said.
Trelawny is not only the largest producer of yams in Jamaica, but the second-largest domestic crop producer on the island. The parish generated nearly 138,000 tons of produce in 2022, putting it behind St Elizabeth, which generated 21,000 tons of produce.
Manchester was third on the list of domestic food-producing parishes last year.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), approximately 80 per cent of agricultural production in Trelawny consists of yams, sold both domestically and internationally in large volumes. The variety of yams being exported from Jamaica in large quantities are yellow, negro and sweet yams.
Charles said that sweet and yellow yams are in high demand on the international market and urged the farmers to bolster their efforts to meet the needs.
“We can’t even meet the demand even though we are at our highest numbers currently. Even though yam is 76 per cent of the production in the parish, we have a lot more ways to go. This is our gold…our diamond. We must meet the demand globally, because every single country wants what makes Usain Bolt run so fast,” he said.