Manufacturer wants more local turmeric

April 27, 2021

With an increased demand in turmeric, Jamaica Teas principal John Mahfood is inviting farmers to sell more of the crop to meet international and local demand.

"Turmeric is used in making curry, that is a regular demand for it, and people drink it for health purposes and also it has a reputation of being very good for you. It's like ginger, it's the same family and so there is a regular demand for turmeric," he said. But despite its reputation as being effective in protecting the human body from infections, Mahfood explained that turmeric is normally sought outside of Jamaica as it is not popularly grown by local farmers.

"It used to be grown many years ago but there has not been a big demand for it in exports. People used to export it but it seems that since the export of ginger has declined and since people who grew ginger have declined, there has been a fall off in the export of ginger and turmeric. We have had to import turmeric and I am looking to see if it is a product that we can get in Jamaica, if there are persons willing to supply us," Mahfood said.

He said that since his invitation to tender for the supply of turmeric became public on April 25, several persons indicated that access to the crop was not the issue.

Can't get anybody to pick it

"One gentleman who answered my advertisement said there is a lot of turmeric in the ground just growing wild but he can't get anybody to pick it. He said that the people in Hanover, where he is from, and from Westmoreland, they can't get anybody to pick. People are not interested in farming, that is one of the difficulties," he told THE STAR.

Mahfood is hoping that he can generate at least 10,000 pounds of turmeric, but up to yesterday, had not found one supplier.

Agriculture Minister Floyd Green confirmed that there is a heightened demand for turmeric in Jamaica and encouraged more citizens to get involved in production. He said the ministry has identified turmeric as a priority crop, and it intends to collaborate with farmers to increase production.

"We have been having training programmes with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, looking at different technologies to really increase the productivity of turmeric. Presently, we are doing a 20-acre nursery in Orange River to get planting material as we will distribute across the island to farmers because of the significant demand we have seen for turmeric," Green said.

He said the demand has soared since the onset of the pandemic, due to its medicinal value being noted for its anti-inflammatory properties and is also used in nutraceuticals.

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