Monday 17 June, 2019

Agriculture sector sees flat growth due to illicit fires, crop disease

Sugar cane production was impacted by illicit fires. (iStock photo)

Sugar cane production was impacted by illicit fires. (iStock photo)

The coffee leaf rust disease and illicit cane fires were among the reasons given for minimal to flat growth across the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry for the three month period ending March 2019 compared to the same period of 2018.

Data presented by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) showed that the industry grew by an estimated 0.2 per cent.

Director General of the PIOJ, Wayne Henry reported that growth was constrained by a contraction in traditional export crops, down 8.8 per cent, which reflected declines in three of the four export crop groups, namely: sugar cane, down 12.9 per cent; banana, down 7.1 per cent; and coffee, down 21.2 per cent.

“Sugar cane production was impacted by illicit cane fires, a shortage of cane cutters and haulage equipment, which combined, resulted in inadequate throughput of sugar cane, which caused factory downtime.  Factory operation was also impacted by mechanical issues,” Henry said.

He added that coffee production continued to be negatively impacted by the coffee leaf rust disease, and market uncertainty. 

Lower banana production reflected the impact of dry weather conditions during the review quarter.

The performance of the industry was facilitated by the improved performance of other agricultural crops which increased by 2.7 per cent. There were increases in seven of the nine crop groups, including condiments, up 8.6 per cent; potatoes, up 7.2 per cent; legumes, up 4.2 per cent; yams, up 3.9 per cent; and fruits, up 3.6 per cent. 

Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: