“The ‘new agriculture’ of Jamaica requires a greater level of modernisation that is led by the youth. It requires a greater level of mechanisation and an increased use of high quality inputs at the appropriate time. We have to ramp up the use of greenhouses that require less land, generate greater levels of productivity and consistency.” – Derrick Kellier, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Kingston, Jamaica.
Farmers are heavily dependent on high quality planting material to improve their yields and productivity. As a farmer, I have faced challenges in accessing quality seeds and seedlings for my 7.5-acre farm. Often, quality is compromised during growth, storage, and transportation.
Due to the challenges faced by many farmers like myself, I acquired access to a 3,040 ft. greenhouse facility with an irrigation scheme to assure my own input material. Wait – I operate my very own greenhouse? Oh yes!
Hi, I am Naeen Jackson and I am a 34-year-old young woman. I am a proud Jamaican who takes pride in contributing to the development of the Jamaican agricultural sector. Currently, I am employed as a Plant Health, Animal Health and Food Safety Systems Coordinator in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, in Kingston Jamaica. I am a Public and Environmental Health specialist by training, and I am a farmer by passion!
I am always dependent on seedlings to ensure a good plant stand for hot peppers, sweet peppers, pumpkin, and melons. I also realize that onion transplants survive much better in the environment where I farm as opposed to direct seeding. I envisioned utilizing my greenhouse to generate seedlings for my in-field activity as well as to support other farmers operating in my community.
I am part owner of a greenhouse operation called Seedlings Solutions in St. Catherine, Jamaica, where I specialise in greenhouse production of vegetable seedlings.
This operation is guided by a marketing plan and word of mouth marketing. Currently, I have 450,000 onion seedlings in production and 20,000 scotch bonnet pepper seedlings in production for farmers under contractual arrangements. I also have one acre of onions in in-field production and a half acre of okra.
There are a number of nurseries scattered across Jamaica, and there is a high demand for Scotch Bonnet and West Indian red hot peppers, as well as onion seedlings. However, there are no nurseries in close proximity to where my greenhouse is located.
There are over 100 small and medium farmers within the same locality with over 600 acres of land. This means that the nursery will ultimately contribute to improving farmers’ livelihoods by giving them a reliable source of good quality seedlings and minimal transportation costs. This in turn will reduce their transaction costs.
I have done extensive research and have observed that the total consumption for hot pepper is 14,635 mt with 372 mt of this hot pepper being imported. Additionally, a significant amount is imported into Jamaica as pepper mash for further agro-processing and exported as value-added products.
In addition, the total consumption of onion was 10,346 mt while local production contributed only 1,088 mt or 10.5% of the country’s demand.
My country is heavily dependent on imports (89.5%), partly due to low production rates. This need for success propelled me to look at opportunities to improve my ability to increase production while offering my community the opportunity to increase their production, too. The aim is to increase the amount of greenhouses in operation to be able to expand production.
So, what’s next?
Project specifications and Justification
The greenhouse increases my ability to produce high quality seedlings that are not exposed to wind, heat, or pest and diseases. The greenhouse is already equipped with an irrigation system, which lessens the impact of climate change.
However, we are unable to work overtime due to the lack of lighting and lack of security. Also, I am seeking to improve the value of my product by establishing a quality assurance plan as I move towards getting the facility certified.
Therefore, this project aims to install a number of technologies to improving the success and sustainability of seedling productions. These technologies include a solar panel, a security system, and a quality assurance system plan.
The solar panel system will provide the energy that is required to light and run the pump systems and the camera system. The system will also increase the amount of productive greenhouse hours. The solar panel system cost is approximately USD $2,500.
The security system is necessary due to the high levels of praedial larceny (theft of agricultural produce) in Jamaica. Further, this project and the enterprise are female driven. Therefore a proper security system will aid in securing our investment and will also provide some amount of personal security for the workers. The security system cost is approximately USD $2,000.
The quality assurance system is required for the traceability of seedlings and to ensure that proper standard procedures are set and adhered to. This is also the first step in obtaining certification in a chosen food safety system such as GAP. The writing of the plan and the verification and validation process cost is approximately USD $400.
This project will be implemented over a one-year period with the procurement and installation of the solar panel occurring in months 2-3, procurement and installation of the security system in months 6-7 and the completion of the quality control plan for submission to the Bureau of Standards for validation and verification in month 10.
Keys to success
Success will be measured by the increase in production of quality seedlings to meet market needs. Furthermore, success will be measured by the ability to diversify production into other crops to further meet market demand.
My ability to work longer hours in a more secured environment while increasing the production of seedlings will lead to overall success. Installation of a solar system will allow us to mechanize our fertigation processes in an environmentally friendly manner as the solar system will be used to operate the small pump in the greenhouse.
Thank you for this opportunity and I look forward to working with YPARD!
Blogpost and picture submitted by Naeen Jackson (Kingston, Jamaica) – njackson[at]agroinvest.gov.jm
The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.
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