Ten farmers from four parishes across the island have benefited from contracts valued at $3.4 million to supply hot peppers to Grace Agro Processors. They hail from the parishes of Clarendon, St. Mary, St. Elizabeth and St. Catherine and form the most recent batch of farmers to profit from the ongoing initiative by GraceKennedy for the supply of the commodity for its Hounslow Pepper Mash facility. Addressing Thursday’s (January 31) official signing ceremony held at GraceKennedy’s head offices in downtown Kingston, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, hailed the initiative, stating that “these are the things we need to do to enable us to produce on a sustained basis”. He encouraged the farmers to maintain their stock, so that they can live up to their contractual agreement. “This marriage between Grace and yourselves must be something that you honour and respect. Other farmers will be looking on with jealousy and wanting to replace you if you fall down, so therefore you make sure that you keep the processes flowing,” he said. General Manager, Grace Agro Processors, Orville Palmer, who spoke to JIS News following the signing ceremony, said the farmers are expected to plant 20 acres of pepper. The funds will assist them with seedlings, fertilizer and chemicals. “They are expected to deliver different quantities based on each individual farmer’s contract to us. All our contracts are for two years and they end at a specific time,” he said. “It is designed to have the crops in during the dry period when the farmers would be less vulnerable to the effects of rainfall, which have a detrimental effect on hot peppers,” he told JIS News. Mr. Palmer said the contracts with the farmers will ensure a stable supply of raw material for the pepper mash facility and that farmers have a steady market for their produce. He said the farmers are expected “to deliver to us, cherry ripe peppers, packed in what is commonly called onion bags and we are examining the possibility of assisting with transportation for those farmers who (may experience transportation difficulties).” In 2010, GraceKennedy began operating the $49 million Hounslow Packaging House, which was constructed under the Improving Jamaica’s Agricultural Productivity Project. The project is a collaborative effort between the Government and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Under the 15-year, $2.1 million per annum lease, GraceKennedy will equip and manage the facility and contract farmers to produce raw material. Grace Agro Processors is the agro processing arm of the GK Foods Division. One of its central processes is the production of red pepper mash for local and overseas processors of sauces and condiments.