Statistics published for 2011 show significant growth in the Island’s agricultural land under cultivation. This includes an increase of 8% in the number of vergées used to grow early Jersey Royal potatoes. 2011 also saw a 6% increase in sales value per litre of milk and the first new greenhouses built for many years.
The Environmental Management and Rural Economy section at Howard Davis Farm has released information which shows that in 2010 there were 16,745 vergées used to grow Jersey Royals. This increased to 18,048 vergées in 2011, a rise of more than 8%. In addition to the increase in the sales value of milk, the gross sales value delivered to Jersey Dairy increased from 86.4 pence per litre to 91.5 pence. Ths reflects the work undertaken to develop a value added export market for these products.
One of Jersey’s historical crops has seen a resurgence of interest in recent years and a growing demand for cider has prompted an increase in the area of land used for orchards, which now stands at 134 vergées. In the protected crop sector 5,734 m2 of new glass was built last year. This was the first new build for a number of years and has seen tomato production increase by 72%.
The weather in 2011 made it a difficult growing year, with harvested yields down because of the drought conditions. However the export sales were only slightly down at £30.8m compared with £31.4m the previous year. This was because the 1,303 vergée expansion of Jersey Royals offset the lower yields.
Commenting on the latest agricultural statistics, Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Deputy Carolyn Labey, said “It is encouraging to see positive developments in the rural sector in 2011, despite increasing production costs, a difficult growing season and challenging market conditions which saw a downturn in overall agricultural output.
“It is particularly pleasing to see the growth of the Jersey Royal potato area and the increase in sales value of the milk delivered to Jersey Dairy. This shows that the traditional industries are still holding their own alongside the development of a considerable number of new rural businesses.
“These statistics also demonstrate the success of the Rural Economy Strategy since its introduction in 2006, in creating a positive environment in which the sector can operate.”