Agrobuzz – Exploring Jamaica's citrus industry-July 10, 2019



a five-minute feature agro buzz is now so welcome welcome welcome now citrus fruits such as oranges lemons grapefruits and limes and more are an important source of vitamin C and usually recommended during the fluent cold season but outside of their medicinal value the local citrus industry is valuable to the Jamaica economy recently industry Commerce and agriculture and fisheries minister honourable oddly Shaw toured the farm and factory of trade winds citrus limited in bog walks and Catherine the farm and factory tour organized by the Jamaica manufacturers and exporters Association saw the minister observing tradewind citrus limited's pineapple and citrus operations as well as the packaging of the signature natural juices so on are abuzz this morning to tell us a little more about the industry is Peter McConnell managing director for tradewinds citrus good morning and welcome to agro buzz mister McConnel how you know it is our pleasure now what do you estimate the value of the local such as interest industry to be it's a fraction of what it used to be my estimates were there between two and a half to three billion dollars at this point in time but it's it's way way down on its peak because of disease so low so what is the current state the current state is that we're trying to rebound from a very deadly disease called citrus greening that has wiped out of large percentage of our acreage I think what happens at trade winds would be mirrored across the entire industry where trade winds is down to about our 20% of our peak in terms of production and our acreage is down to about half so they know look at that equation or acreage is down by half but our production is down by 75 80 percent so the scenes are much less productive than they were and the overall volumes of of citrus produces way down so what hope is there for the future for the citrus industry well the hope is that we're gonna have so after each plant you know we didn't trade winds didn't run for about six seven years because we we weren't sure of the future but I did plant in trial in May of 2017 where we planted 15 acres of citrus on irrigation and I was so impressed with that one year later that I put in a new in-house Atwood producing of transplants 100 acres a year and they this growth one year later of those that experimental feel is those remarkable potential for the minister and the delegation on their visit and they the two-year-old trees are this size traditional four year old tree so with irrigation with improved nutrition and culture it's a the future is bright the only problem is that it's very capital intensive and very long term now to be able to sustain in these difficult times you must have had a wealth of experience how long have you been involved in the citrus industry well me personally I've been in the citrus industry since 1988 when straight auto college I was working with the with the business so you can dismiss what is at 31 years that I've been in the business and I've seen it their eyes on the laws and we're certainly in a loan always I'm determined to rebuild it and the industry itself has many different aspects for tradewinds citrus it's it's not just about for exports so give us an idea of the overview the way trade winds or what trade winds has been doing in the industry vertically integrated and we started just as a citrus farm put enough fresh fruit back in-house don't prepare the fruit for sale both locally and overseas on a fresh fruit market and then from that we started to make juice then we started to make frozen concentrated orange juice we started our Juice brand and started this filling and packaging all our juices in the in the wide range of packaging that we know offer so treyvion citrus is an example of a vertically integrated business that started as a farm and thus developed of the value chain over over the last 30 years and you know I think that's a great model for any form of Agriculture is that you have to move up the value chain to be able to be prosperous in agriculture and what's the next step for you well the next step what I was showing the minister is that we've because we've been hit very hard with the devastation of our citrus industry we are we are rebuilding the citrus but at the same time we're diversifying so we've diversify our articles our crops into pineapple with a 75 vehicle investment in in pineapple growing which is a first for us and then we're also open to diversify into dairy products as well so we we committed our colors so we think there's great opportunity for agriculture and an agro business but we are treated in this diversifying and not relying 100% on Detroit understood and we thank you for sharing that with us this morning we appreciate it and we wish you all the best thank you very much thank Rob with me our pleasure that's Peter McConnell giving us a behind the scenes look at citrus growing of course the citrus industry very important to the economy providing employment exports and local production for fresh and agro-processing markets so let's continue to support our promise by eating what they grow for information on what's happening in the agricultural and agro industry sector please visit the ministry's website at my Cathy Giove JM and you know my calf I see AF dot govt dot JM that's short for the Ministry of Industry commerce agriculture and fisheries you can also follow them on Twitter and check them out on Facebook and listen again next week when we have a grow buzz

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