JIS Press Release
KINGSTON (JIS) — The Jamaica Agricultural Development Foundation (JADF) has signed an $11 million grant agreement with the Japanese Government, for the revitalisation of the West Indian Sea Island Cotton (WISIC) industry in Jamaica.
The signing, which took place today (February 18), also marked the commemoration of 50 years of diplomatic relations between Jamaica and Japan.
Speaking at the ceremony, which was held at the offices of the Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA), on Winchester Avenue in Kingston, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, commended the JADF for spearheading the development of the WISIC industry, and the partnership with the Japanese government.
The Minister argued that WISIC, due to its superior quality, is one of the crops which gives the region its distinct competitive edge. “Efforts to grow it elsewhere in the world have not resulted in the kind of quality achieved when it is grown in this region,” he added.
“There is hardly any competition from other countries when it comes to producing this cotton…it does not spoil, you are able to add value to the primary product, it fetches a high price, and is not known to have suffered from any act of praedial larceny,” he outlined, noting that the return on investment in WISIC is more than 30 per cent.
Mr. Clarke pointed out that growth in non-traditional crops have continued, and the earnings from WISIC to this sub-sector will bring a welcome boost to agriculture.
The Minister emphasized that the Government must support rejuvenation of the WISIC industry, as it could create 15,000 new jobs, and earn close to $1 billion in foreign exchange.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the JADF, Vitus Evans, said the Foundation is seeking to have 5,000 acres of cotton under production over three years. It is expected that the product will gradually move up the value chain to include spinning, weaving, and the production of fabric, leading to garment manufacturing for sale internationally.
He said efforts are being made to identify private investors to fund the value added aspect of the project, and production of the by-products.
Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Yasuo Takese, welcomed the partnership and highlighted the superior quality of WISIC. He also cited the high demand in Japan for this type of cotton.
“Thus, the revitalisation of WISIC production will benefit both Jamaican farmers and the Japanese industry,” he added.
Ambassador Takese spoke of the close ties between Jamaica and Japan, and the high regard in which certain local products are held in Japan, such as Blue Mountain Coffee. “I’m very sure WISIC will be like Blue Mountain coffee in the near future,” he said.