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Story Highlights

  • Agro-Investment Corporation (AIC) cited for environmental breaches
  • Minister apologised for the breach adding that the AIC will comply with orders of NEPA
  • Minister pleased with the progress of the Agro Parks that are up and running

Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, says the Ministry will be working closely with the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), to guard against environmental breaches as it carries out its various projects.

Minister Clarke’s comments came on Friday, July 25, following a tour of the Amity Hall Agro Park in St. Catherine, where NEPA had served the Agro-Investment Corporation (AIC), with both a cessation order and an enforcement order.

NEPA, on June 19, cited environmental breaches during a river cleaning exercise and ordered that immediate remedial steps be taken to mitigate the impact by July 26.

The Minister said he is confident that the deadline will be met and also informed that he had made a commitment to NEPA for greater collaboration.

“I said to NEPA that if we find ourselves in this sort of situation again, where a river must be cleaned to deal with the drainage, we would want them to guide us as to how you can clean the river without removing trees they do have the expertise to do so,” Minister Clarke said.

He apologised for the breach and said that the AIC, which is the implementing agency for the nine Agro Parks to be developed across the island, is well on its way with complying with the orders of NEPA. He said that there is already re-growth in the area that the agency had cited.

In the meantime, the Minister said he is pleased with the progress of the Agro Parks that are up and running.

At Amity Hall, approximately 800 acres of land have been cleared of which Caribbean Broilers has already planted some 130 acres of sorghum. In the other areas, smaller farmers were planting onions, okras, peppers and a number of other crops.

The Ministry, through the AIC, is engaging some 3,237 hectares (8,000 acres) of land in the production of a number of critical crops across nine Agro Parks. Another two parks are expected to come on stream by the end of the year.

The parks are being developed through a partnership involving the Government, farmer/investors and the private sector. They are part of the Government’s strategic priorities aimed at reducing the high food import bill.

In all instances, what is produced in the Agro Parks will be tied to a specific market.