SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH COUNCIL (SRC)
CREATING VALUE ADDED PRODUCTS: Boosting Jamaica’s Agricultural Sector

The SRC fervently believes that the creation of value-added products is a viable means of stimulating growth in the agricultural sector, and will positively impact other industries. It is against this background that extensive work is carried out by the SRC to develop various value-added products from local agricultural crops. The following is an overview:

FOOD SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

The SRC prior to its restructuring activities in 2003, carried out its food technology activities through its Food Technology Institute (FTI). The activities are now performed through the joint efforts of the Product Research and Development Division and the Process Development Division. FTI was developed to facilitate the production and growth of the agro-processing industry, and has over the years concentrated on developing and transferring technologies to this sector. Numerous formulations and technology packages are available at the SRC. A number of new food products have been developed from local raw materials for commercialization and subsequent divestment to the private sector. These activities provide socio-economic benefits to our nation in areas such as income generation and employment creation. The production of value-added products has stimulated demand for agricultural crops, thereby increasing market size for agro-products and creating farming opportunities.

VALUE ADDED PRODUCTS - SRC has developed numerous products from local crops e.g. flour from yam and breadfruit and chips from banana, potato, plantain, breadfruit. It has also developed numerous condiments, preservatives, liqueurs, jams & jellies

SORREL

  • SRC assisted in the development of a local Sorrel industry, which has created benefits to farmers of sorrel and other agricultural materials (sugar, ginger, mango, guava, spices), and service providers such as labourers, truckers, processors, packers and distributors.
  • Three sorrel products were successfully launched, and others are market-ready. A number of sorrel products are also ready for divestment to local entrepreneurs. The export of sorrel products to the United States, Canada and some Caribbean islands generates valuable foreign exchange. Other overseas markets are being explored.
  • Successfully developed a suit of sorrel products under the ‘Hope Gardens Jamaica’ label, namely: Hope Gardens Jamaica Sorrel Squash, Guava Sorrel Squash, Mango Sorrel Squash, Sorrel Chutney – spicy and original flavours, sorrel liqueur, sorrel topping and two sorrel sauces.
  • AWARD WINNING CHUTNEYS - The Hope Gardens Jamaica Sorrel Chutney was launched in late 1997. It was voted “Best New Food Item” for 1997, by the Jamaica Observer Table Talk Award. In 1999 the Hope Gardens Spicy Sorrel Chutney was launched for chutney lovers with a preference for very spicy taste. It won international recognition when it too won the ‘Best New Food Item Award’ offered by the Canadian Association of Specialty Foods at the Canadian Fine Food Show in 1999.

PEA SOUPSThe SRC recently released four new, traditional Jamaican, soups: gungo peas with meat and gungo peas without meat, red peas with meat and red peas without meat. These products were sold to the Jamaican Agro-Processors Association (JAPA). The SRC will provide training and assistance to JAPA to facilitate quality and standards.

  • A vegetable patty is market ready and several formulations are available for starting new businesses.
  • SRC has provided training and technical assistance to numerous individuals, community groups and institutions/organizations in various aspects of food processing e.g. Solar drying, Juice Making and Meat Processing. It is envisioned that this will contribute to the development of sustainable businesses, especially in the agro-economy.

MUSHROOM

  • MUSHROOM PRODUCTS – jam, soup mix, mushroom flavoured cake mix and pickle were developed by the SRC.
  • SRC provided technical assistance and spawn to farmers facilitating the commercial production and sale of local mushroom. It successfully established a composting system, using mushroom and other organic waste generated by the SRC. Compost is now being produced and sold.

TISSUE CULTURE TECHNOLOGY

The Tissue Culture Unit (functions now performed by Process Development Division) engages in activities aimed at increasing the competitive position of the Jamaican agro-industrial sector through the production of high quality disease free planting materials, and the development and selection of improved cultivars. The European Union advanced funding for the production of 500,000 banana plants by Tissue Culture, for the local banana industry, as part of an overall support programme for global competitiveness. Tissue-cultured plantlets that were produced for small farmers are already showing good results in the field. Research work is being conducted on the propagation of fruit plants and root crops; e.g. peach, ackee, coffee, ginger and dasheen.

NATURAL PRODUCTS

Emphasis is placed on the development of value added products and a nutraceutical industry. Work is also being done to support the local essential oils industry. Evaluation and quality control of the active ingredients in products such as ginger and citrus, peppermint and lemongrass as sources of nutraceuticals and functional foods.

 

 
Copyright 2003, The Scientific Research Council (Jamaica)