Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, says the Government is seeking to establish the first agro-economic zone in St. Elizabeth.
“Hopefully, by next year, we will be able to set up our first agro-economic zone whereby the farmers in the parish will know that they have a ready market for whatever they grow,” he said.
The Minister was speaking during the Bethlehem Moravian College’s annual commencement ceremony in Malvern in the parish on Wednesday (September 12).
He explained that the zone will consist of a complex that will have facilities where grading, packaging, processing and drying will be carried out.
Produce will be graded from A to C, with grade A crops to be exported and sold to the hotels, grade B will go to the local market and grade C produce will be used to make purées and juices.
In the meanwhile, Minister Hutchinson has committed to assisting with the development of the school farm at Bethlehem Moravian College through the Agricultural Push Start Programme (APSP), which is focused on increasing the production of Irish potato, onion and Scotch bonnet peppers.
He said that the institution should receive the support by October.
“We also need to provide you with two water drums… . We also have the Irish potato and onion programmes we want you to be involved in,” he added.
Under the Irish potato and onion programmes, the institution will be provided with seeds, chemicals, and fertiliser.
The commencement ceremony at the Bethlehem Moravian College was held to mark the start of the new academic year, as well as present the institution’s peer leaders, class representatives and members of the student council.