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Chairman of the Bauxite and Alumina Task Force, Dr. Carlton Davis, has said that stakeholders, especially banks, must become far more proactive in facilitating economic growth.
“The financial sector must see itself playing a constructive role in the diversification and development agenda, and we must move seriously to diversify the economy, and agriculture is one means of doing it,” he said.
Dr. Davis was addressing a forum at the Ridgemont United Church in Manchester on Tuesday (September 15) looking at industries other than bauxite/alumina.
“Increased food production, to meet domestic demand and that of the growing tourism sector, is one way of diversifying our economy. But, it has to be done in a realistic and measured way so that, whatever we produce, can meet the criteria of quality, including phyto-sanitary and elemental composition issues, price reliability and profitability,” Dr. Davis stated.
Pointing to mega agricultural projects undertaken by state agencies which have failed, he said those dismal experiences should not deter us from looking to agriculture again.
“We must not be fanciful; we must be deliberate, and engaged in what we do,” he suggested.
He said that 60 percent of Windalco’s mined out lands are being used by some 790 tenant farmers to cultivate cash and orchard crops, as well as raising beef and dairy cattle.
In June, 1300 hectares of land, located in Barossa, Roxborough, Mount Nelson, New Hall and Beswick areas, were transferred to the Commissioner of Lands and 30 percent of Alpart’s mined out lands have been leased to 1,325 small farmers.
Dr. Davis said that some 17 hectares of rehabilitated lands are currently available for purchase in Enfield, Blenheim and Berry Hall, in the parish, for farming, housing and other uses.
The forum was put on by the Manchester Parish Development Committee (PDC), in collaboration with the Social Development Commission (SDC) and the Jamaica Information Service (JIS).

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